One of the challenges of being a leader is dealing with the many issues that face us on a daily basis. Most of these issues are those that come with people. How many times a day do you spend trying to solve other people’s issues? Want to free up more time during the day to get to the things that you want rather than the things other people want?
The stressful point of other people’s issues is when we take it upon ourselves to try and fix the problem for them. Solving problems the coaching way turns the focus of responsibility on where it should be – in the hands of the one who presents the problem. Many leaders who deal with people on a day to day basis spend way too much time fixing and not enough time coaching. Who better to solve a problem then the one who presents it!
More often then not, people who work for you usually come to you with a problem because you are the one in charge, the one with all the knowledge, the one holding the leadership reigns. Yet usually the best solution lies in the hands of the one who is closest to the problem. Rather than having employees accustomed to getting you involved on a detailed level concerning an issue they are facing on the job, coach your employees to work through solutions to the problem that they know more about than you do since they have been spending hours focusing on it whereas you are still at the point of introduction to the issue.
What you are acknowledging by this approach is that those who work for you are intelligent and capable people who, given a positive perspective on their own ability, can work through a problem and come up with a solution. The next time one of your people comes to you with a problem take this approach by asking these powerful questions:
What were you trying to accomplish just before you got stuck?
At what point in the process did you run into a road block?
How do you think you can get around it?
What do you think is the solution to the problem?
What have you tried so far?
What have you thought of that you haven’t tried yet?
Are there any other approaches to solving this problem?
By asking these powerful questions, you are putting the responsibility of working through the problem onto the employee rather than taking responsibility on yourself. With some patience and willingness to leave the problem in the hands of the person who presented it to you, you will be surprised at the results and you may just realize that you have some very keen and capable people around you! The long term positive outcome is that your people will then learn to tackle problems on their own and coach each other to solutions minimizing the amount of time you are involved and freeing you up to do the things that you want to do. Give this approach a try and see what will happen!