Common Traits of Problem-Solving Leadership

There’s really no escaping it: No matter how hard we try to be self-aware, everyone—including the best leader—has unproductive behaviors that are invisible to us but glaring to everyone else. I encounter this often in my coaching practice. Great leaders are known for their ability to discern real problems from run-of-the-mill difficulties, when to intervene and how to find the best solution. But leaders focused on problem-solving disrupt the normal pace of business and frustrate their people when obsessing. These behaviors are based on common problem solver traits:

  • Are deep thinkers who tend to perseverate over data, diverting their attention away from people and communication priorities.
  • View circumstances with skepticism and need assurances that systems and products are at optimum states, which can drag down those around them.
  • Taint their mindset by overstating negative and minimizing positive aspects, which leads to poor decisions.
  • Are easily paralyzed by analysis and avoid making decisions, thereby blocking progress.
  • Have little trust in processes and procedures, as well as those who adhere to them.
  • Wear people down with endless questions as they seek complete resolutions or fixes.
  • Tend to challenge authority by questioning their motives in supporting the status quo.
  • Can invent negative outcomes to affirm their discomfort with ideas or methods, creating greater challenges.
  • Lack flexibility and a willingness to accept new ideas.

At the same time, problem solvers have some positive traits that benefit their organizations. Leaders who focus on troubleshooting:

  • Are great lessons-learned resources, full of advice on how to avoid past mistakes.
  • Have excellent analytical and problem-spotting skills. They catch errors most people overlook, which reduces waste.
  • Are prepared and calm when trouble arises, as they planned for it.
  • Are unafraid to discuss the elephant in the room, tackling significant issues no one else wants to mention.
  • React honestly, without hedging, grandstanding or bragging.

Which of these traits resonate with you?

Ideally, the positive behaviors of problem-solving leadership will outweigh the negative. When this topic comes up with my coaching clients, I encourage self-awareness to help minimize personal and organizational damage.

What do you think? What traits of problem-solving leadership have you seen or experienced? I’d love to hear from you. You can call me at 704-827-4474; let’s talk. And as always, I can be reached here, or on LinkedIn.

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