Problem-Solving is an Essential Skill of Leadership
In business, the ability to solve a wide array of problems – sometimes quickly, other times creatively – is one of the traits of a good leader. After all, one poor decision could have a devastating impact on the company’s success.
The connection between great leadership and problem-solving is evident in many fields. The article, “Problem-Solving Lessons from NASA,” lists problem-solving procedures inspired by astronautical leadership. In addition to defining the problem, the steps they list in effective problem-solving are:
- Determine goals/objectives
- Identify possible solutions and evaluate the consequences of each
- Choose one or more courses of action
- Implement plan of action
- Adapt as needed
Problem-solving, the article offers, includes “mindful, deliberative information processing.”
Leaders not only focus on process, but people. They are often in charge of motivating their employees and making the problem-solving process collaborative. A major component of great teamwork is communication. Effective communication towards problem-solving happens when a leader encourages transparent communication where everyone’s points of view have been accounted for, according to the Forbes article “The 4 Most Effective Ways Leaders Solve Problems.” Each individual shares why they believe the problem happened and specific solutions to that problem. The best solutions are chosen, based on factors including budget, how effective it will be, and how much time it will take.
Leaders also make the connections needed to map out a realistic plan of action. “They anticipate the unexpected and use the strengths of their people to assure the strategy leads to a lasting solution,” the author of the Forbes article states. Leaders help determine what steps of the plan must be taken and delegate the appropriate tasks. During this phase, problem-solvers look at ways to implement the solution based on any constraints that apply. After a plan is implemented, an ongoing process of ensuring available resources and monitoring progress occurs. Leaders can evaluate and reflect on the entire problem-solving process to prevent similar problems in the future.
Problem-solving involves people working together with proper resources and information. Leaders face the challenges that come with problem-solving and inspire their people in the process. One of the best ways to develop a deliberative process is to have strong critical thinking skills. Which is why a critical thinking course is one of the first classes a student takes in the Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership Program at Alvernia University.
The process of defining a problem can lead to understanding the underlying conditions causing the problem. This can be helpful later when looking at ways to prevent problems from reoccurring.