Problem Solving Reveals True Leaders

By February 3, 2020 No Comments

***This article is inspired by chapter 5 of John C. Maxwell’s book
“Developing the Leader Within You 2.0” – “The Quickest Way to Gain Leadership:
Problem Solving.”***

Very few people look forward to experiencing problems, but leaders are revealed in the midst of them. Think about it. When a crisis hits an organization or community, leaders rise up to take action and help their colleagues and community members through it.

Last year, we had a series of tornadoes sweep through our region. In the midst of much devastation for thousands of people, leaders rose to the occasion to help their friends and neighbors. People created task forces. One woman created a Facebook group to start a local movement so those unaffected by the tornadoes could help those who were directly impacted.

Another local example is a lawyer and his wife who started a nonprofit organization to raise funds for classroom safety locks to combat the fears of school violence. In just a few short years they have raised enough money to put special locks on all the elementary and middle school classroom doors. They are now raising funds to finish the project for our high school.

These are just a couple of examples of how problems reveal leaders. It happens in all organizations. When problems arise, look at who rises to the occasion. While no one wants problems to occur, leaders are revealed and forged amidst them.

Albert Einstein once said, “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” Leaders see and seize opportunities when problems arise.

Consider the following 4 essentials for problem-solving leaders by John Maxwell, then assess yourself on how well you match up:


1 – Take responsibility for addressing problems.

Taking responsibility must be a leader’s first priority. You may not have caused the problem, but you are responsible for addressing it. While others are pointing fingers and playing the blame game, leaders are shifting into solution-mode to get beyond the problem so their team and organization can win.

2 – Take responsibility for your attitude and emotions.

No one can control you except you. How you handle your thinking will affect the quality of your leadership.

Consider this statement from the Napoleon Hill Foundation – “In a moment of conflict, a suggestion or compromise can salvage a threatened working relationship. A discouraged employee can be motivated again through a few carefully chosen words. In situations like these, a good manager is looking beyond an immediate situation and acting to preserve a future benefit. But if your voice betrays your own anger, fear, or despair, that emotion, not the wisdom you offer, will be what others remember. Those who rise to the top in any organization are those who have learned to control their emotions. When you have a leadership position, others will watch you closely for the signals you send.”

Work to remain as calm as possible and control your emotions. Your followers will respond according to what they see in you.

3 – Give your best effort to finding solutions.

No leader is perfect, but giving your best effort toward finding solutions will motivate your followers to do the same. Tackle the problem head-on and model excellence in the midst of challenging circumstances.

4 – Don’t solve problems “for” your team. Solve “with” them so they can learn and grow.

Your followers don’t need a superhero. They need a leader who will guide them and include them in the process. If you become a “one-man show” you may solve the immediate problem, but you will not prepare your team for future challenges and success. Make it a priority to rally your team together, get their insights for creative solutions, and ask them to step up to the challenge. This has the power to reap long-term benefits for the team and organization.


While problems aren’t fun, they are to be expected. As a leader, prepare in advance for how you will respond when they come so you will not be reacting in haphazard ways. Determine right now to be a leader who will rise up as problems come and invite your followers to do the same.

Until next time…make today GREAT!

By the way, if you need guidance in your personal life or want to take your leadership to the next level, click HERE to learn more about my personal and executive coaching services. 

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