This article is part of my Global Leadership series; Insights from more than a decade of leadership training around the world…
Finding solutions to complex problems lies at the heart of what it means to be an effective leader. But to experience the greatest thrills in leadership, you must not just find the solution; you must be the solution.
Being the solution to a problem means going beyond delegation. It means that you are committing to personally owning all that needs to happen to ensure a successful outcome. And in leadership, there is no thrill quite like it.
While visiting leaders in Nagpur, India, I had asked one of the local officials to describe his greatest challenge. He explained that he was unable to wire funds to his son who was studying in university overseas. The situation was becoming desperate.
When I learned that his son was studying in a city in Canada near to where I would soon be visiting, I recognized that this gave me the opportunity not to simply help him find a solution; I could possibly be the solution.
By changing an upcoming travel itinerary and schedule, I believed I could find a way to personally deliver the funds to this man’s son.
There are fewer moments more satisfying in leadership than when you can personally own such a problem and deliver an outcome. But to do so, you must understand 3 key truths:
1. To be the solution, you must position yourself on the front lines
Leaders who stay at their desks, or who allow their teams to handle all of the work on the front lines, rarely have the opportunity to be the personal solution to a problem. Be where the action is.
2. To be the solution, you must make ‘yes’ your default setting (with discernment)
You can’t say ‘yes’ to every problem. But if you are a no-driven leader, you will never experience the thrill of being the solution to such real-life problems.
3. To be the solution, you must embrace inconvenience.
If you prize routine, stability and predictability above all else, you will rarely be a candidate to be someone’s solution. You must be willing to have your life disrupted sometimes.
Leadership is all about problem solving. And often, the best course of action is to outsource or to delegate. But don’t miss the real thrill in leadership, which is reserved for when you raise your hand and say, “I’ve got this one…I will be the solution.”