All problems are the same — to leaders
Karl Popper, an influential 20th century philosopher of science, stated, “All life is problem solving.”
Problem solving is what leaders do. They cannot be effective if they view a problem as a distraction; instead, what seems to be a problem must only be seen as an opportunity. Finding the opportunity (which is always present) is the solution to every problem.
The key is to approach all problems as if they are essentially the same, just packaged differently. It’s less about dissecting the actual problem and more about being able to see and seize the opportunity. In Toastmasters we learn to handle “problems” like declining membership, a member who dominates all discussions or loss of a meeting venue. But we are free to think and innovate so we can take advantage of the opportunities presented.
Toastmasters leadership programs introduce members to “bumps in the road” that they’re accountable to resolve. More importantly, the projects allow members to experiment with different approaches to the bump. There’s no angry boss, irate stockholders or arresting officer to fear. So we can seek ideas from others, create and try a solution, and redirect our efforts as needed. We build confidence that will serve us well in our professional and personal lives – and we learn what approach works better for us.
Change by itself isn’t a problem, but it can become one; change can scare a lot of people. (This will be good to keep in mind as we divide our district.)
However, “Without strategy, change is merely substitution not evolution.” Leaders are responsible for strategy — setting the direction, planning the operation and adjusting the course as new information develops.
What do effective leaders do?
Communicate transparently. Everybody has to feel heard, valued, and involved in the change. Problem-solving wisdom and power aren’t found only in the “C suite,” they lie within the team. The leader must listen and question until she finds it – and seizes the opportunity.
If District leaders hide problems – such as their team’s inflexibility or a team member who doesn’t follow through on promises – the leadership team fails its members. It creates problems out of what should be opportunities. This applies as well when club officers disguise or rationalize the club’s poor progress in the Distinguished Club program.
- Break down silos.
Organizational boundaries encourage competition within the organization and isolate the true stakeholders from one another.
If Club A has found a great way to deal with declining membership, but keeps it a club secret, all of us in Toastmasters lose. Leaders proactively share information that helps others.
Always have a plan of action.
Good leaders apply what they’ve learned; they know the right people to call for help, or locations for resources that may be useful, for instance.
They ask, “how will be benefit from this?”
Adversity makes or breaks you, but it primarily reveals you.