Asking the tough questions to get to the heart of the matter.
Throughout my years as a leadership consultant and coach, I find that a lot of what I do comes down to asking the right questions, and being a careful but active listener. Often, these are questions that people don’t always want to hear, or are afraid to ask themselves.
When organizations are working through difficult problems, it may mean that Leaders have reached a point of impasse or dysfunction—or so they think. The reasons can vary, and sometimes it may stem from something deep-rooted and emotional and seemingly unrelated to the problem at hand. More often, the individual has low self awareness, and becomes defensive at a suggestion there is something deeper and more personal as a source. The trouble becomes greater when these issues are not discovered, discussed and worked out in a healthy way. The problems tend to fester, and then like an infection, the troubles spread to others.
If you start to think of your company like a machine, and its teams members as its parts, it becomes a little easier to examine or inspect. I’m not saying that this should be a constant mentality. It’s crucial to think of your employees as human beings, and you should always work to raise your EQ! But use this machinery strategy as a tool to set emotions aside when necessary, so that you’re able to take an objective, analytical approach.
Dig a little deeper…
Next, think about what is working well and why. I’m a big follower of the strengths movement. You should be making note of your strengths. As you move forward, these are the areas in which you’ll want to concentrate and expand upon.
As you become more aware of your strengths, you will get better at spotting the weak points and trouble areas—or as they are often called, “opportunities for improvement.” The better you become at finding problems, the easier it becomes to work through, around, and solve them, before they become “failures”.
It has been said that every problem contains its own solution, and I have almost always found this to be true. Problems usually don’t start out as problems. Problems occur as things shift away from their source. Emotions, environment, roadblocks, relationships, distractions, and tasks at hand tend to create a course of easier navigation at the moment, resulting later in a tangled problem. Proper identification of the source and redirecting your efforts can sometimes help to shift you back in the proper direction before things get out of hand.
When a situation develops, and things start moving in the wrong direction, work to get it fixed right away. The longer it takes to deal with it, the more out of control it becomes. That said; there is great strength in simply recognizing when a decision or opportunity is too risky in the first place. Often, that goes hand in hand with the old adage, “If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.”
So how do we recognize these situations, and deal with them before they turn into big problems?
It’s a skill, and learning it—and mastering it comes with experience. Like any skill, it takes practice to get good at it. In reality, it’s an Art more than a Science.
Dig even deeper
Don’t be afraid.
Fear is a killer of so many good things in our world. When you see something that doesn’t seem right, address it immediately. Check into it. Maybe it’s not a problem after all, but if it is, catching it early on is the best way to correct it and get things back on track.
Be proactive, not reactive.
Have what you need in place to do each job in the manner that is needed for the best possible outcome. Never over-promise to your customers, or colleagues hoping that you will somehow have what you need when it comes time to deliver. It’s a recipe for disaster.
Prepare yourself—and your team— for success.
Do it however and whenever possible. Make sure that everyone has the proper resources needed to succeed. It’s also about delegating, or making them the MVP rather than yourself. Instill the team effort in them. By doing what is necessary, and what is best for the team and for the customers, everyone works toward creating a happy, healthy and functional environment.