This week I have had two different management teams talking to me about what “their boss” hasn’t done. They shared all the problems that their leader hasn’t yet responded to, or dealt with. I have talked to their leaders about dealing with these problems. More importantly, I coach them about the underlying need for them, as leaders, to create a positive environment in which employees recognise their role in overcoming problems. To make a start, there are 3 questions leaders can use to focus everyone on solutions rather than challenges. Why should they do this? Looking for opportunities and always having a positive mindset sets the tone for people to take responsibility, find solutions and succeed.
1. What would good look like? What would be a good outcome? What could/needs to be done? Or something similar. Rather than focusing on the issue, people look at what a good result might be. It stops the “I have a problem – its your job to solve it”.
2. What could you do to move towards this good outcome? Highlights their potential role in finding and implementing a solution or at least generates some co-ownership of the challenge.
3. What do you need from me to get this good outcome? Demonstrates the leaders’ commitment to finding a solution.
If leaders take this approach, they are sending a clear signal that the business focuses on opportunities rather than problems. Very quickly everyone starts to think about solutions before presenting problems. They also start to realise that there is a shared responsibility in managing the business and the value in take a more proactive partnership-type role within it.
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During half-term I asked James if he could fly Guy and I down to Brighton to have lunch. Unfortunately the weather conspired against us and there wasn’t a single day when we could do this. So, we decided to go for a local flight instead. Guy told me that he needed to sit in the front seat as he might want to learn how to fly some time in the future. I wedged in behind them. Most young lads would be fascinated by flying in this way and I looked at the back of Guy’s head thinking fondly of the fun he must be having. That is until I saw his head roll back and to the side and realised that he had fallen asleep!