Decisions, decisions, decisions.

A leader at any business within any industry is barraged with dozens of daily decisions, from seemingly simple decisions regarding inventory or staff scheduling to complex and impactful decisions about market strategy, profit margin price points, and the like, and people in leadership roles understand the importance of quality decisions. It can be argued, however, that how effective a leader is at filtering through the given information, determining a course of action, and communicating the action equates to the overall strength of that leader. Effective problem-solving precedes the actual decision, which leads to the quality of the decisions arrived at and is crucial to all leaders’ success.

“Leadership IS solving problems. The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them,” Colin Powell once said.  While fully understanding that the decisions made by business leaders around the country pale in comparison to those in charge of our military, effective problem-solving is paramount to being a successful leader in any industry.

In my 20-plus years of different levels of leadership, experience has taught me that simply possessing knowledge is not enough — a strong leader must be a good problem solver … or become one! During the problem-solving phase, the leader gathers information, analyzes it, considers implications, and determines a solution path.  Sure, knowledge, experience, and personal and/or business savvy all play a role in the ultimate decision, yet the crafting of the solution to the issue is part art and part science.

We find that throughout our work with groups and individuals — and while today’s leaders face ongoing questions, issues, and concerns that must be addressed — the way each handles these issues is incredibly important. The good news is that this can be taught and developed as a strength over time. A true leader demonstrates an understanding as to why the problem occurred, determines what the most practical solution may be, identifies who needs to be involved, and then plans how they communicate the solution. This is often the differentiator between someone simply in a leadership position and a strong leader.

Although this is not to suggest that leaders should over-think routine decisions, which could lead to the “paralysis by analysis” effect, but rather be open to all inputs, strategize a solution, and become more aware of the implications of their decisions.

Lead on … and effectively problem-solve toward success!