We as leaders have all had one of those days when someone knocks on the door (or calls) and you hear the words – “I have a problem.” For the rest of the day (and maybe more) this problem lurks in your thoughts and might wreak havoc with your plans for the day as you struggle to unravel and solve it. However, a bad day can also be an opportunity to clarify many things.
Your Mindset as a Leader
Do you consider the problem a disruption and an irritant to your day? It is easy to get so wrapped in your own world that you forget that a big part of your job is helping others to navigate through issues. If you like to concentrate on your own work that does not mean you cannot be a good leader. It means you have to work harder to provide the attention and time others need from you. And that means being prepared to let go of your own needs to make room for their needs.
Your Team’s Readiness
A problem is an opportunity to assess, teach and stretch your team. If it is a novel issue with no precedent see how well they think through the problem (with a little help of course) so they solve the next one. If it is not novel, it is the time to explore if they lack skills or willingness to address the problem. Unless you build their capacity and confidence to tackle problems like this you can look forward to a lot more bad days.
Your Department’s Process or Operation
Your department’s process or operation. If capable and willing people continuously bring problems to you then you have to ask what is wrong with the process such that people cannot do their jobs. Try the “5 Whys” technique. Keep asking versions of “why.”
- Why is that?
- How is that so?
- What do you think brought this on?
- Why is this hard to resolve?
- Why does this particular problem keep coming up?, etc.
Eventually, you will not only uncover hidden issues that need fixing, you will help your staff think through the issue. In turn, the next time they bring a problem to you they will be smarter about the reasons and solutions. And if you are really good at the “5 Why’s” they may even solve the next bad day before it starts. Have a bad day!
Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s discuss how you can turn your “bad day” into a “good day.”