If you had an hour to solve a problem, how would you use that hour?
As perhaps many of you, I would get right to work, taxing my brain to find a solution. And then I read the quote from Albert Einstein. That quote opened my eyes to what is fundamentally wrong with leadership today.
“If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.”
As human beings we are solution-driven. Even when we do not fully understand the problem, we seem determined to come up with a solution. “Seems normal”, I hear you say, “why wouldn’t we try to solve the problem?”
And this is what gets some leaders off the track: In my 20 years of experience working for many organizations and for many leaders, I have realized that most leaders would bring the solution to their team and ask them to implement it.
But some leaders lose sight of the fact that their solutions are based on personal opinions cascaded down from the top of the organization and often without fully understanding what they were trying to solve. They lead their teams on the path of one solution without giving them the opportunity to “think” about the problem, to explore what created the problem in the first place, look holistically at the range of solutions, and then choose the one that offers the best results.
Deprived of this chance, many teams experience low morale and engagement. More importantly, they run the risk of missing the best solution at hand.
So the next time you are faced with a problem, take the hour to actually think about it, explore all the options and then come up with the best solution.
Photo credit (Teaser Image, Albert Einstein): AFP/Getty Images