An important factor for leaders trying to solve problems or create change is to make sure that everyone’s concerns and points are expressed publicly. One of my favorite expressions is “after the meeting ends the debate begins”. I have witnessed that behavior time and time again while trying to solve problems and it can be pretty toxic. Usually the “debate” centers around how the proposal won’t work for X, Y or Z but they never publicly express their view. So naturally it does eventually fail. This also causes you to take far longer to get to the root of the problem than it would have if people spoke up.
Communication is a fundamental necessity. It is understandable that those involved in the problem would rather not express themselves thinking it may threaten their job or expose their own wrong doing. However, this Easter egg hunt approach to is ineffective and crude. The leader’s ability to facilitate an honest and open discussion of the issues comes from the level of trust they have established with the group. If the level of trust is high the group is more likely to feel it is a safe environment, one where they can share their beliefs on why the problem happened and offer specific solutions to solve it.
Once you can get to a point where all voices can be heard publicly and all points of view have been documented and debated, you as the leader, and your team can outline a plan that will be viable and sustainable. You will also have a plan that everyone has bought in to and will support.
A leader never assumes that people are going to be forthcoming and honest while sharing what they really think. You must be able to identify those situations where that may be the case and then challenge the team until you feel comfortable that everyone has expressed their perspectives and offered solutions. If you feel even just one person on the team is holding back keep challenging then until it comes out. Only then can you quickly and successfully solve the problem and move forward.
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