problem solving mindset

The Problem Solving Mindset

Being “CommandReady” Requires a Problem Solving Mindset

Management or command ready leadership requires you to shift from thinking about yourself, your accomplishments, concerns, goals and responsibilities.  When you shift your priority to your employees’ mindset, training, skills and gear, you’re transitioning to the problem solving mindset.

Sometimes your employees will be ready to give up on a project early in the challenge stages.  Being present as a leader means you have to understand their challenges. You must understand what happened in trying to resolve their challenges and what will need to happen to overcome them.  When you are able to face all of this yourself, you can show your team how to successfully do the same.  Ready to work out your next problem solving challenge?  Then you know you need to frame the problem, to understand what is going on.  Once you do, you can understand the real problem, what you’re facing, and who will be coworkers toward a solution.

What is the real problem or challenge? 

Identify the problem you are asking your team to solve.  You can’t resolve any dilemma unless you are able to identify the real problem first.

The initial step in any task or any problem solving mission is to understand what is going on.  Even in a product failure test, the first step is not to look at obstacles, but to understand what has happened that created the current dilemma. Then focus on what needs to happen to resolve any problems and how to make that happen.  Step 1 is to figure out your real problem to be solved.

What are you up against? 

What are you up against simply means what needs to happen to solve the problem? You have identified the real dilemma.  The next step is to figure out how to solve that dilemma.  In this stage you and your team will need to come up with innovative problem solving solutions. You can then collectively work through potential obstacle and best method of execution.  There are some hidden pitfalls for leaders in this stage of problem solving. 

Ask your team for ideas on how to problem solve, listing all of their ideas before determining the best route.  It will be tempting to communicate obstacles you have experienced with their ideas as they list them.  Control that urge.  Keep in mind, just because an approach had problems in the past does not mean it won’t solve today’s challenge.  Different situations call for different approaches.  Good leadership requires you to keep an open mind, to encourage creative thinking.

In the initial planning part of solving any challenge, it is critical to avoid looking for the obstacles to success.  Looking for those obstacles will stop any action, innovation, or progress, dead in its tracks.  Before you look at the obstacles, step back to look at the challenge and begin looking at potential solutions to it.  You can fine tune those solutions later, but encouraging your team to brainstorm may lead to better solutions and will keep the team moving in the right direction.

Who is helping you solve the challenges?

You have identified the challenge and the obstacles you are up against.  To be “CommandReady” you need to know who you have helping you solve the challenges.  The answer to this question means understanding your team, their experience, their skills, assets and their potential.  If you have a team who has worked together in the past to solve similar problems, you can proceed with confidence.  If the team is just beginning to work together, or if some members are unknown quantities, take a moment. A command ready leader will make it a priority to become familiar with each member who will be helping you solve the challenges.

CommandReady has trained hundreds of managers on leading your team to develop a problem solving attitude. Our most recent program, called Forged in 84 takes leaders through leadership development. By following the techniques we share, you will begin to automatically shift to your new problem solving mindset. You will still face challenges. New dilemmas will continually come up.  How you deal with them will depend on how well you have developed your problem solving mindset.