Shaping Leaders

“Leaders learn best by leading in the face of obstacles.
As weather shapes mountains, problems shape leaders.”

~Warren Bennis

Robert Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

Leaders perpetually face problems and challenges – it’s a responsibility that’s part of the job. Some are planned like change initiatives, and some arrive unforeseen. Some are familiar, and some are new; but every one of them involves barriers to be overcome and priorities to be sorted.

Each challenge presents an opportunity for leaders to learn and to strengthen their competency, while also developing their people. When leaders collaborate with their teams to overcome obstacles and solve problems, they build the team’s confidence, tenacity, agility, and resilience; teammates practice collaborative skills and build connections that are necessary for team problem-solving and goal achievement.

Experienced leaders use a proven process like the following to resolve problems and achieve goals, being careful not to skip a step, driven by the urgency they may feel:

  • Clarify the challenge. Ensuring that your team understands the problem and why resolving it is important, helps them see the challenge as a priority and an opportunity to make a difference. Connecting the endeavor to your organization’s goals and strategies, and if applicable, to your purpose and values, reinforces this perception.
  • Envision the outcome. Guiding your team to envision a successful outcome, appreciating the benefits earned, and exploring how they will feel when they succeed, builds enthusiasm, spurs curiosity, and establishes a sense of optimism.
  • Identify resources and obstacles. Reminding your team that achieving their expected outcome will involve overcoming barriers. Identifying potential obstacles upfront, and the resources available to support their efforts, minimizes surprises and raises awareness that flexibility will be required to make progress.
  • Plan the way forward. Engaging with your team to plan the steps necessary for achieving your expected outcome provides the opportunity to encourage solution-oriented thinking and open, transparent dialogue; it also prepares them for plan adaptations that will likely be required. These discussions reveal perceptions and ideas which help leaders discover what most challenges the team, while reducing the team’s fear of the unknown or of being overwhelmed.

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

Leave a Comment