Do you see creative problem solving as an opportunity?

Updated: Nov 26, 2020

If you are a good leader, then you embrace planning and you have the ability to anticipate when problems or changes are coming your way. You can easily come up with solutions or rally the troops to come up with solutions to avoid chaos.

However, sometimes, shit happens. No matter how much you planned, things can shift quickly and people can disappoint unexpectedly. How you handle those situations or think on your feet, will set the tone with your team.

Will you freak out and start shaming and blaming or will you step up to ensure the best possible outcome given the situation?

If you are the leader or manager who tends to lose their wits in the face of an unexpected challenge, here are a few things you can do be a creative problem solver:

  1. Acceptance – Don’t wallow in the pain or ignore the problem. Accept that it’s there and focus on the situation for resolution. Leave the emotions you are feeling after you have solved the problem and are reflecting on how to better manage the same situation in the future.

  2. Reframe the problem – Your mindset has everything to do with the success of solving the issue at hand. You must approach the situation with a positive mindset in that you and your team can handle the problem. Even if it’s not perfect, there’s always something that comes out of every situation that you can learn from. And remember, you are also on display for your team. If you aren’t positive, they won’t be either and there is a lot to be said for a team that thinks they can handle a challenge.

  3. Be tactical – Focus on what you can solve now. Sometimes being tactical means that you move and solve one step at a time. Don’t get lost in being overwhelmed, narrow your focus, and proceed with one foot in front of another.

  4. Listen – Listen to all ideas from the team. Sometimes, those you least suspect come up with something that is brilliant. It doesn’t mean that they will have the expertise to do the actual work, but they’ve come at it from a different perspective which is the business for you.

  5. Call on Experience – Call on whomever you need to solve the problem. Don’t feel like you need to come up with the perfect solution if you can’t. Call on those on your team or from another team or even from the outside, if it moves you to a solution. Don’t worry about hurting feelings or seeming to be unfair. Remember you are being tactical and working towards a resolution. You can manage the hurt feelings and/or doubt after it’s all said and done.

  6. Be clear – Your communication must be simple and clear. Do not assume that others know what you mean. When in these situations everyone is under pressure (emotional and/or time), so there is no room for confusion or assumptions. Being clear removes your chances of introducing new problems.

  7. Hold a Lessons Learned session – After it’s all said and done, pull everyone together to have a lesson learned session. This is still not a time to point fingers or place blame. This is in an effort to understand what happened and how it can be avoided the next go around. If there is someone who really messed up and they need to be held accountable, that is a private conversation. In my opinion, there is still no reason for a shout down. They may have been wrong, but there is still room for growth so lead with grace and let this private conversation still be about a lesson learned so it can be avoided in the future.

Being a creative problem solver is definitely a skill that you must build. It takes practice and most of all acceptance that shit happens. As a leader of others, it’s an amazing skill to model so your team learns to not be afraid of the unexpected. That they can handle change with a great mindset and view every issue as a potential opportunity.

Lead with Greatness.