As Karl Popper, one of the most influential 20th century philosophers of science, once eloquently stated, “All life is problem solving.” This simple yet profound statement rings especially true in the realm of leadership. The best leaders, in my experience, are indeed the best problem solvers. They possess the patience to step back and observe the problem at hand through a broadened perspective; circular vision as I like to call it. They see around, beneath and beyond the problem itself, peering well-beyond the obvious. The most effective leaders approach problems through a lens of opportunity.

Here are four effective ways leaders solve problems:

  1. Open-minded People Effective problem-solving requires people to be open-minded. Problem solving is about people working together to make the organization and the people it serves better. Open-minded people see beyond the obvious details before them and view risk as their best friend. They tackle problems head-on and focus on driving growth and innovation.


  2. Define the real problem Don’t rush to solutions until you’re super clear on the actual problem you’re trying to solve. Often, an issue presents itself as a surface symptom of a deeper problem. Spending sufficient time exploring the issue or getting clear on the real problem is critical for effective problem-solving.


  3. Don’t stop at either/or decisions to solve your problem According to Chip and Dan Heath in their book, Decisive, we get better outcomes when we choose between more than two options. So if you’re in the idea generation phase of problem solving, and you notice you’re choosing between only two options, generate some more. Widen your options.


  4. Look at it from different angles We all have biases that cloud our objectivity. If you’re a team around the table tackling a problem, and you all look and think the same, the risk of bias increases. Looking at the problem from different perspectives minimizes this risk and enhances the problem-solving process.

Effective problem-solving is an essential leadership skill. It involves being open-minded, defining the real problem, exploring multiple solutions, and considering different perspectives. By mastering these strategies, you can become a leader who not only solves problems but also turns them into opportunities for growth and innovation.

Ready to enhance your problem-solving skills and become a more effective leader? Visit our website HERE for more resources and insights on leadership and problem-solving.