The best solutions to problems are discovered by a team not mandated by a leader. Every team runs into problems or speed bumps that slow progress. An assessment is done to analyze the problem and determine the root cause. Often times the solution requires an outside coach or consultant, but more often than not…
The Solution is in the Room
I recently called a meeting with one of our teams to address an issue that had been created by a shortage of personnel. One very important priority was suffering because of the lack of personnel. The most obvious solution that seemed to be unanimous among the team was “we need more people.” In other words, most people on the team assumed the solution was going to have to come from outside of us (i.e. more people) rather than among us.
Our job as leaders is not to have all the answers, but to guide our teams in such a way that solutions are discovered. I want to share four things we did in that meeting that infused energy, sparked fresh ideas, and refocused the team as a whole. As a result, we all learned that the solution was right there in the room.
1. Encourage the Heart – Before getting into problems, it’s always best to celebrate successes and the hard work of the team. Encouraging the heart is about celebrating the value and importance of what it is you do. As Simon Sinek would say, “start with why.” This step should always be first because it instills purpose and meaning and sets a positive tone for the rest of the meeting.
2. Cast Vision – Once the team is encouraged and the mood is set, it’s time to calibrate the compass and ensure everyone is headed in the same direction. Remind the team of where you are headed and the future you are trying to create. Tap into their imagination and discuss specifically how their role is playing a part in moving the organization toward that future.
3. Set Priorities – Everything that’s worth doing is important, so priorities based on values must be established. This is the leader’s job. Others can buy into the vision and run with it, but if priorities are not established circumstances will cause subtle shifts in progress and cause the team to deviate off course. The priorities that need to be discussed in this particular meeting are the ones that need focus. Keep it to one or no more than two in order to be productive. After all, your goal is to find a solution to a priority that is suffering.
4. Empower the Team – Empower the team by asking a question that invokes thought, participation and action. The question I asked in our case was, “How can we as a team meet this priority with the resources we have?” As ideas began to flow, I simply bounced them off of other people to create discussion and communicate that they were empowered to act. Suddenly I was no longer the focus of the meeting – the solution to the problem became the focus. In fact, I left the room at one point and no one hardly noticed. The power to solve the problem shifted from me to the other leaders and team members in the room. In record time, we had a solution.
Keep REACHING FORWARD in your vision and dreams while maximizing the dreams and passions of those around you. When you run into issues, know that more often than not the solution is in the room.
What else can be done to rally a team toward a solution?