Albert Einstein, notably one of the most amazing minds in our history taught, “We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.” Simple words from a brilliant man are a great comparison for ‘problem-led leaders.’
A study at MIT revealed an interesting and potentially undervalued form of leadership: one led by problem-solvers who never intended to become leaders. This unique group of ‘leaders’ didn’t set out on a path to be a leader or manager. Instead, they set out on a journey to find and fix problems. They look forward to a challenge and become obsessed with finding new ways, ideas, resources, etc to overcome any obstacle.
This approach for finding a solution drives them to be natural collaborators. Often, they seek out the best and brightest minds with the skillsets needed to tackle the toughest problems. They do their part in ‘leading’ by letting the problem lead the process while their team of extraordinary minds and talents work together to devise and develop creative and innovative solutions. At any time the ‘leader’ can shift from one team member to another as seamlessly as a zipper slides from notch to notch as the ‘expert’ is revealed to move the solution along in each phase of the project, building upon the previous ‘leader’s’ expertise and moving onward with the new ‘leader’s’ skills, until yet another leader is revealed at the next stage.
These atypical leaders rely on data and their ability to be analytical and this skill allows them to work tirelessly on a problem until a suitable solution can be found. They work hard, fast, and move on quickly after a failure, only to reassess and try something new. They find structure amidst the chaos a problem presents and allow for all team members to have their moment in the spotlight. While the movement has gained momentum over the years, this brand of leadership often makes the ‘leaders’ uncomfortable with the leader label.
These unsung problem-solving heroes prefer to hide in the shadows, diligently doing their work day in and day out without the added stress a leadership title can bring in an organization. For managers, it is important to pay close attention to your team to see if you have any of these problem-solving people in your organization and giving them a chance to shine when problems present.
But much like animals in the wild, these leaders may spook easily when presented with the offer of a full-time leadership role. As a manager, offer them the support and leeway to problem solve with precision. These assets will move your organization in amazing new innovative ways and garner creative solutions for seemingly small problems that can have a big impact on your business, industry, or even the world.
While these leaders tend to shy away from traditional leadership training programs, find creative ways to help encourage their natural anti-leadership leadership skills and recognize their unique skillset and talents. Understanding and embracing these individuals can go a long way toward enticing more problem-solving leaders to step forward and reveal their talents as well as join your organization expanding the value your business can bring to the marketplace.
Leadership talent doesn’t always come dressed in a fancy suit and briefcase, sometimes it carries a magnifying glass and pocket protector. Embrace all the leaders your company offers and help them gain the skills needed to become more confident and prolific in their positions. Contact us today to learn how we can help you and the leaders in your organization grow and succeed. Great leaders grow great businesses.