Fix it or Not?

One of the key things I've been learning as a leader over the last year or so has to do with problem solving.

A large part of my job as a leader has to do with thinking through challenges or problems. In fact, very few days go by where a problem of some kind doesn't come across my desk.

Early in my role as a leader, I thought it was my primary responsibility to fix every problem someone brought to me. The more I grow as a leader, the more I realize the flaw in that thinking.

If you think you can solve all the problems that come across your path, you're deluding yourself and holding back the people you lead.

What I find is that in almost every case, the people who bring me problems have all the resources and knowledge they need to solve the problem. They just need someone to listen to them, think with them, and release them to do what they know how to do.

I came across an old quote the other day that says this so perfectly I am going to put it on my desk so I see it every day. It's attributed to an old Egyptian Pharaoh who wrote: "Those who must listen to the cries of their people should do so patiently. Because the people want attention to what they say even more than the accomplishing for which they came."

For me, it's easier to solve a problem than to listen to the people who bring me the problem. I need to get better about that, and if you want to lead people, so do you.


elenburg said...

Chris, this is *pure* wisdom, and it applies even better in husbanding and parenting. I can't tell you how transforming it was in my marriage to stop fixing and start (merely) listening. It is *so* hard to not be Mr. Fix-it when my wife or three teen age sons come to me with problems, but if I'm having a rare touch of the wisdom you outline, the results are oh, so much better, if I just let them work through it on their own rather than taking over and fixing it for them.

This is a HUGE insight.