Thank you for listening to the Champion Forum Podcast with Jeff Hancher! Today we are discussing some of the common problems facing leaders today. You’ll hear two real-life coaching scenarios I dealt with recently and get actionable tips on how you can avoid these business setbacks in your own life. Specifically, we will be talking about taking ownership of your decisions and company culture and how to ensure you are not coming up with a solution for a problem that does not exist. These two skills will help you acknowledge and quickly move on from any setback you could be facing in your own life and career.
1. Excuses become fuel for complacency.
The problem: I have a client who has been having some chronic turnover issues. When we discussed the issues, my client kept pointing to the character flaws in the employees.
The lesson: The best leaders know how to give credit and take the blame. This client had to own that turnover is always the leader’s fault. You either hired the wrong people or you did not develop them well. If you want to improve your company and yourself, you must put aside your ego and consider what you need to do differently to create success. Remember that it is your role to clarify the mission, equip your team to perform their roles, and get their commitment that the task will be done. If you avoid criticism and make excuses, your personal development and your business will suffer.
Q: Why do you think it is hard for leaders to take blame? Do you think that top-tier leaders or 360 leaders face this issue more? Why? How can you foster a culture where taking blame is okay?
2. Don’t rush to a solution if you don’t really understand the real problem.
The problem: One of my clients was facing a cash flow issue and wanted to cut costs by reducing sales. Through our conversion, we learned that it was more of an AR issue than an expense issue. Then we adjusted their approach accordingly.
The lesson: Don’t rush into coming up with a solution before you fully understand the problem. I walked my client through this process to help them understand and address the issue:
1. Identify the Problem
Define the problem. Ask yourself “What is the problem?” “What should we be achieving instead?” and “How can I achieve this solution quickly and efficiently?”
2. Evaluate the Problem
Look at the overall patterns in your business. Ask questions about the what, who, where, when, and how to understand the root cause of the issue. Your goal is to understand, not assign blame. Use this opportunity to discuss the issue with other leaders and the front-line employees.
3. Communicate to Your Team
Be transparent in your communication with your team. Being clear about the problem and the plan of action will help you gain the respect and trust of your team. Change, even when it is a good thing, can be scary for people and cause resistance. However, transparency will help the people who support the solution stay motivated and invested in the task until it is resolved.
If you have a team member or key stakeholder that is typically most resistant to change and has a problem for every solution, you should consider involving them at the point of creation.
4. Test and Improve the Solution
Evaluating your errors should be part of your growth and development strategy. Leaders should use these mistakes to improve their approach over time. As you make adjustments, keep the communication lines open with your team. Thank them for their effort and remind them of how everyone will win when you accomplish the mission.
Q: Why do you think leaders sometimes solve the wrong problem? What role does siloed thinking play in these scenarios? How can your company create greater communication and transparency to improve problem-solving? Describe a time when transparency between departments helped you uncover the root cause of an issue. What were the results?
Where have you been making excuses in your personal life or business? Challenge yourself to come up with two specific areas. Be honest with yourself and brainstorm 3-5 different action steps you can take to improve in each area and then number them from most urgent to least urgent. Over the next month, pick one of the issues you identified and spend time implementing the steps listed in the second part of the podcast. As you brainstorm, remember to take the blame and give the credit!
Let’s take a reverse look at the second half of the podcast by evaluating your last major decision. Go back to the beginning and identify the problem. Assess how well your solution addresses the real problem. Is there a situation that is contributing to the problem you addressed? Did your solution account for that variable? You can get a good picture of how well your solution is working by measuring its results. Have you seen an improvement in the problem area? If not, start at square one and go over the four steps in this podcast. Make sure that you involve other people in the decision-making process to improve their buy-in and ensure you have a full picture of the problem.