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Leaders need to have strengths in a number of key areas – communication, strategic thinking and problem-solving being just three. And problem-solving is one of the most universal because it applies to every situation that a leader will face on a daily basis.

The more adept you can become at problem-solving – from small issues to larger and more strategic topics – the more confident and effective a leader you can be. And when you develop the tools and techniques needed to excel at problem-solving, your people will respect you and have the trust and faith to follow you.

Problem-solving is something that we can all work on and develop. Try these techniques to up your game.

1. Get better at defining problems

The better you can state the problem, as accurately, clearly and succinctly as possible, the easier it becomes to solve it. This approach also helps others to become better and more confident problem solvers. Without a clear understanding of the issue, it will persist and the more you will feel stress and anxiety about it, without any routes to solving it. Take your time to really understand what you are trying to solve before you even attempt to do so. It’s tempting to race ahead to ‘solutioneer’ immediately but this invariably results in poor decisions if you don’t really know what you’re trying to fix!

2. Analyse your assumptions

We all fall prey to our filters, experiences and attitudes when we are attempting to solve a problem. Biases and assumptions can become a blocker, even when we have useful and relevant experience. Try stepping back and taking some time to really learn the parameters of what’s happening, before brainstorming options with your team members. The more you can engage other smart – and involved – thinkers, the more intentional your problem solving becomes. This also helps you to develop your people and encourage them to learn deeply from their experiences, rather than waiting to be told what to do.

3. Take confident and decisive action

Procrastination and analysis paralysis will mean that you end up stuck in non-action and in danger of losing the respect of your team. Forget trying to make the perfect decision (it doesn’t exist) and look to achieve progress. Make a decision, apply it and test it. Adjust the approach as needed and work on an iterative basis to seek improvements. This allows us to move forwards and minimise risk because incremental movements allow an easy change of course as we move deeper towards a more fundamental solution.

With structured and deliberate actions, almost all problems can be tackled successfully and with confidence!

Support and help to become a better decision-maker

Sarah J can help you to develop the tools and confidence that you need to be a better leader – and to love your role. From confidence coaching to career development, Sarah can help you to achieve more, without stress or worry. Please get in touch to find out more.

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