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How Can Leaders Improve Problem-Solving Abilities?
If there’s one thing we have learned from the COVID pandemic, it’s that problems can crop up at any time and without any warning. Some problems can be fixed easily, but others are complex and require skilled leaders who know how to deal with them without disrupting the workflow. With the type of problems, we experience in our day-to-day lives and jobs, it seems like there’s no ideal way to manage them without facing the negative consequences.
Most of these problems create a great deal of tension in the workplace. The managers usually find a shortcut or a temporary solution so that they can get rid of it for some time. In the meantime, they think of a permanent way to eliminate the issue and minimize its impact on the productivity and profitability of the company.
One of the most important components of problem-solving is identifying the root cause of the problem. Just thinking of a temporary fix might provide temporary relief, but it won’t fix the underlying cause of the issue and will eventually affect your productivity in the long run.
Improving Problem-Solving Abilities
People often wonder what makes leaders great problem-solvers. In fact, that’s a crucial skill every business looks for in a leader while searching for the most deserving and skilled candidates. What makes problem-solving so important, and how do leaders manage to ace this skill?
Define the Problem
It seems like a no-brainer, but a common reason people fail to find an effective solution to a problem is the lack of knowledge about the problem. The only way to find out the root cause of the problem is to understand the problem, its impact on the organization, its consequences, and how it’s affecting your workforce. Understand what caused the problem. Once you have clearly defined the problem, you can move on to finding ways to resolve that efficiently.
Smooth and Transparent Communication
A leader who supports open communication will most likely have excellent problem-solving abilities. They allow their teams to express their unique opinions freely. Surprisingly, most issues can be resolved when people follow their instincts and speak up. You can definitely use your team's creative ideas and even implement the ones that seem viable for your organization.
A common problem here is that most people don’t speak up because they are scared they would lose their job if they suggested something, and it makes the problem worse. A great leader knows how to build a positive culture in the workplace, allowing people to share their views without any hesitation and feel confident about that. Even if the company decides not to follow each opinion, the employees must share their ideas.
It’s easier for leaders to figure out the most reliable solution when every employee takes part in problem-solving. The process becomes much more effective. As the leader considers all opinions, there is a good chance they will come up with a plan that resolves the issue.
Support Cross-departmental Collaboration
It’s okay to have separate departments handling different kinds of operations, but you should promote cross-departmental collaboration. For every issue, no matter how big or small, your team must be willing to work together. The goal of each department must be aligned with your organization’s long-term objectives. So, to resolve any issue that affects one of these departments, every member from different teams must unite to find a viable solution.
In a company culture where silos exist, dealing with problems is more challenging and might take longer than usual. That’s because people work as individuals, and they see their profit before putting the company first. Such organizations cannot grow. Leaders who break silos and promote cross-functional workflow achieve better results than others.
Build a Strong Foundational Strategy
Solving a problem is nearly impossible when you don’t have a proper strategy in place. A good leader sets a strategy and sticks to the same when faced with a challenge. They see the problem as an opportunity to bring people together and improve innovation. These leaders know which equipment should be used, who should be appointed for which duties, how much budget must be allocated for the problem, and what’s the maximum time it will take to resolve.
They don’t just focus on a temporary fix that will help the team get rid of the issue for some time. Instead, their focus is on finding the main issue. They do their research to find out what caused the problem in the first place, what could have been done to avoid it, and what can be done now to prevent the same problems in the future. That’s what a well-defined problem management strategy looks like.
Critical thinking and problem-solving are co-related. Critical thinking refers to logical thinking. A concept that allows teams to solve problems logically instead of looking at them emotionally. When your emotions come in the way, it gets difficult to resolve the problem efficiently.
That’s because decisions that do not involve logical thinking and analysis often turn out to be bad. Instead of doing what looks right, you should check your work history, the patterns of problems you have experienced so far, what measures worked for you, and what your competitors prefer. These factors will help you make a rational decision.
It’s important that you evaluate all factors that might affect your decision or result in bad consequences before implementing them. Your instincts are not always right, especially when it comes to business. You should rather embrace critical and logical thinking. And promote the same concept in your workplace. This will help your employees make data-driven decisions.
These are the skills that make leaders great problem solvers. They support cross-departmental collaboration so that teams can work together to find a solution to common problems. They think of a strategy that can work as a long-term and permanent solution instead of a temporary fix.
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