Problems Shape Leaders

Bob Schultek Author of
The Gauntlet

Leaders grow stronger, becoming more effective, as they collaborate with their teams to overcome obstacles and solve problems that improve results. As Warren Bennis once stated: “Leaders learn bestby leading in the face of obstacles. As weather shapes mountains, problems shape leaders.”
Leaders develop their teams to meet the required challenges, and deepen their own competency, by:

  • Earning the trust of their teams. They walk the talk, keep promises and lead from the front, engaging with their teams, and each team member, to ensure that those they lead feel valued, appreciated and supported. They create opportunities for teammates to learn about one another, practice skills and build connections that will be necessary for team problem-solving. No team will be motivated to take risks and invest the extra effort required to overcome barriers, resolve a problem or achieve a goal, if their heart isn’t in it. Teams must want to make a difference.
  • Strengthening team resilience. Leaders next focus on increasing agility to build team resilience; overcoming obstacles requires courage, tenacity, integrity, collaboration and flexibility. The core of resilience is mindset, so leaders encourage solution-oriented thinking and open, transparent dialogue that enables information sharing. Key to this effort is leaders and teammates learning to listen more than talk. When leaders practice this, teams sense respect and care, and leaders learn what is most challenging for the team. For the team, listening exposes perceptions and ideas that reduce their fear of the unknown and strengthens personal autonomy, easing the sense of being overwhelmed
  • Clarifying the challenge and envisioning an outcome. Ensuring that the team understands the problem and why resolving it is important, helps them see the challenge as an opportunity to make a difference; connecting the endeavor to the organization’s purpose or values reinforces this perception. Leaders help their teams envision a successful outcome and how it will feel to win; then, they guide them in identifying potential barriers to overcome, and warn them that there will be peaks and valleys on the journey towards that outcome. Resilient leaders maintain a sense of optimism in the face of challenges, set an example for team members, and keep their team on track towards their chosen outcome.

Sharing challenges and overcoming obstacles to solve a problem or achieve a goal bonds a team. Such experiences boost team members’ competencies and confidence, while shaping leaders that succeed.

How do you engage with your team to solve problems and achieve goals?

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