Sounds like a good theory, but is it possible?
I wish I could guarantee that your problems would come in tidy little packages, during your free time, right when you were looking for them, but they don’t. They come when you least expect them and when you don’t have the time or energy to deal with them. Still a leader has to be ready.
First, you have to remember:
1. You are not in charge of this world and it’s problems. You are not even in charge of other people’s problems. You cannot control everything. Stuff happens, and it is not always your fault. It may not even be your problem.
2. But, since you are the leader you have to do the appraisal: Is this a serious problem? Does it need to be solved now? Am I the one who needs to solve it?
3. Not all problems can be solved. There are no easy answers. Some problems can only be held off.
So, how do I stay ready?
1. Be ready to control your emotion! Do not deal with problems or surprise situations with bad emotions like desperation or fear or anger. You will make bad decisions and may create greater problems. In fact, see if you can accept the problem with eagerness or joy, anxious to deal with it and find a solution. See it as a challenge, or a puzzle that you get to solve. Accept it as a normal part of your day, a normal part of your role as leader. Don’t just pass it off. Consider it. It may even be a good thing for you to work on.
2. Be ready to back away for a moment. My mother always advised counting to ten before reacting to a situation. It was good advise that I often wished she would practice herself. Count to ten. Give yourself time to digest the problem and see it from the outside, away from your personal reaction. Don’t let it be personal. Try to set the problem on your table so you can see all sides of it. Move around it. Keep it away from you so you can see all the sides of it. It will help you make a much more objective decision.
3. Now, start taking it apart. Get as much information as you can about this problem. If you have time, discuss it with others as one would discuss the way the others team plays. If you don’t have time because of the nature of the problem, just do your best with what you know.
4. Make a call. It may be the right call and all is resolved. It may not be the right call and you will need to revisit it. Make the call that seems right, not easiest. Just do the right thing. That is usually the best course.
5. Move on. Don’t second guess yourself. Get on with other things. If the problems comes back, and some will, you’ll have plenty of time to second guess yourself and do something different.
Leadership is fun except when the problems come and, sad to say, you never know when that is going to happen, so you have to be ready!
Now, substitute ‘problem’ with ‘opportunity’ and you enter the fun side of leadership. Sometimes it is really hard to tell the difference.