Leadership Problem Solving

Problem solving, like leadership in general, requires involvement of others.Leaders should make hard decisions and set direction for the organization, but they also need to seek input from those involved, particularly those who must implement the solution.All of these problem-solving measures are effective, but most leaders will state that the best solution is to anticipate the problem and head it off before it occurs.

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Few leaders can wait for the next in line to solve their problems.

If they did, they (like Johnson and Chrysler management) would be out of a job.

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Warren Buffet, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, once wrote: "No sooner is one problem solved than another surfaces—never is there just one cockroach in the kitchen." Mr. The successful ones learn to deal with them and develop techniques to manage and solve them.

Leaders, as point people in the management of people and ideas, encounter problems daily, even hourly.

Unfortunately, even well-intentioned leaders can be overwhelmed by circumstance and their own stubbornness. Likewise, the management of Chrysler Corporation in the late 1970s watched as the company continued to produce uncompetitive products and accumulated crushing debts. Upon taking office, President Richard Nixon began removing ground troops in a planned reduction.A short time later, Chrysler introduced the minivan, acquired American Motors, and positioned Jeep as America’s first sport utility vehicle.Neither Nixon nor Iacocca’s solutions were overnight successes; it took Nixon until his second term to end U. involvement in Vietnam, and it took Iacocca time to pay off the loans and nudge his company into the red.President Lyndon Johnson’s experience in Vietnam is one such example; no matter how hard he tried, Johnson could not bend the will of the enemy, nor remove U. At the same time, he kept pressure on North Vietnam with heavy bombing raids as well as incursions into Laos and Cambodia to prevent supplies from reaching troops in South Vietnam.Lee Iacocca became President of Chrysler (later Chairman) and shortly sought government loans to save the Company.In manufacturing, the solution may involve application of a new process and acquisition of a new piece of machinery. The leader should gather all resources necessary and make certain people have the authority and support to do what they need to do. Evaluate the steps you took to solve the current problem.Ask yourself: could you have done it more efficiently, more quickly, more creatively? Like disaster contingency plans, formulate next steps to help the organization prepare for the next problem.And then, once again, take a step back and just think about the entire problem and solution process.Many people find that ruminating over problems over time can produce new ideas.Considering the outcomes narrows the options and provides a choice. By stepping back, if only for a day, an hour, even five minutes, gives the leader the benefit of perspective and time.Assessment in this situation is a form of reflection; it helps the leader to "get out of himself" and just think.


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