Last week I had the opportunity to meet and train with a member of our Regional team. The focus of the meeting was operations and I received an education on how things should be done . We also discussed at great length the challenges in front of the store and improving our level of customer service. At one point during our discussion the statement was made, “our weakness is that we don’t find solutions. ” If we were drawing a cartoon you would have seen a light bulb over my head.
It is said if you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem. In other words, by taking shortcuts and looking for the quick fix we are the problem. What I realized is that this is not only an opportunity in business, it is an opportunity for each person and for society. As with all parts of leadership the ability to find solutions starts within ourselves. It begins with personal accountability and not trying to assign blame for our issues to others. As a society it is important we understand that the choices we make are our own. And with those decisions come consequences, good or bad. Listening to others thoughts and ideas is an important part of knowledge and decision-making. But the answers come from inside, which makes you a leader of yourself.
To take this to the next level let me ask this question; if we don’t want to take the time or put in the work to find real solutions in our own lives how do we handle more global issues? The answer is we don’t. When was the last time you read about or listened to a political debate or speech and heard anyone talk about a solution? I am not going to ever claim that I am sitting here on some pile of world-changing solutions. I am still searching for my own. I do know that for us to find solutions we are going to have to start with real communication. We are going to have to move from blame based speeches, news reports, and talk shows to face to face meetings with real dialogue looking for new and better answers. We are going to have to stop trying to put a band-aid on difficult situations so we can say we did something. We have to find real solutions to real problems.
As I said earlier to be a leader I must first lead myself by asking the tough questions and finding solutions. Without doing so I can not help others either individually or as part of a team. And that is what leadership is about. It is about people and helping others live a better life, through teaching, coaching and creating opportunities. It is about bringing people together to find a better way. It is about turning all the leadership concepts and theories I read everyday into actions. Mostly it is about taking our behaviors from good to great.
What makes a good leader great? Great Leaders find solutions. They don’t take shortcuts. They don’t look for a quick fix and most importantly they don’t point fingers at anyone but themselves. We need some great leaders in this country. Leaders that together will find solutions. That will tell the political parties and media on both sides that we the people are done with the talk and we want solutions based leadership. Great leaders are not about talk, they are about actions. All that said it starts within ourselves. Find solutions and take actions for yourself, then build on that model to help find solutions within your circle, then your community and continue to move forward. Then ask our Leaders to be great. To get past all the talk and take real action to find solutions. To be part of the solution not the problem.