Solution-based leadership is a future-focused approach to leadership. Instead of accepting excuses or looking for a quick fix, solution-oriented leaders ask “why?” and get the whole team to come up with a solution. By doing so, they break the negative feedback loops that keep people stuck in repetitive work and hopelessness. Right now, the human race faces a number of challenges, from a pandemic to a climate emergency to deep roots of racism and a divisive political climate. Finding a way forward can be a daunting task, but it is not impossible.
Solution-oriented leadership is a future-focused approach
Solution-oriented leaders don’t dwell on past problems and are focused on the future. They don’t make excuses and don’t believe in blaming others. Instead, they focus on possible solutions and work collaboratively to make changes. In a team environment, a leader must model a future-oriented mindset for everyone to benefit from.
This style of leadership encourages people to ask questions and focus on solutions rather than problems. It also makes teams more motivated. Leaders must avoid the temptation to focus on problems, because this approach can be negative. Dr. Rick Goodman, a world-renowned executive coach, has identified five essential traits of solution-oriented leaders.
Schools can benefit from this kind of leadership style. In a solution-oriented school, students’ strengths are highlighted. By providing positive emotional experiences, students are motivated to learn more and improve.
It involves asking why
The practice of solution-based leadership involves asking why and identifying the underlying cause of a problem. Then, countermeasures are identified and agreed upon. If the countermeasures are not effective, they may need to be adjusted or replaced. This method is rooted in tradition and works best when the answers are coming from people who have actually dealt with the problem.
Solution-oriented leaders start by identifying the problem and then ask themselves “what can we do to make it right?” They are less concerned with who is to blame and more concerned with what needs to be done to close the gap. Instead, they focus on what can be done now to make the situation better. The “why” questions can be a challenge to solution-oriented leaders, so they often avoid them or use them very carefully.
It involves pulling the whole team together to develop a solution
Solution-oriented leaders don’t hesitate to act when necessary, but they know when it’s best to step back. They approach the problem with the right headspace, not with stress about past mistakes or what might go wrong. They keep their eye on the prize, which is moving forward.
A solution-oriented leader puts the ball back in the team’s court. This empowers the team to find solutions to the problems. Of course, the road to a solution is rarely smooth. This is especially true when you’re pushing boundaries and trying something new. But instead of criticizing the team for bumps in the road, celebrate those opportunities to work together and come up with a better solution.
It doesn’t need excuses
Often, you may think that the solution to a problem lies in other people’s capabilities. When that’s not the case, it’s likely that the problem lies within your own capabilities. Instead of relying on excuses, try coming up with better solutions. Instead of complaining about how difficult it is, show your boss that you can find a better way to do the work.
The first step is to understand the cause of your problem. Many excuses are just ways to escape from responsibility. By creating a “no excuse” environment, you will be able to encourage others to eliminate excuses as well.
It increases productivity
Many businesses today are seeking to increase their productivity. This can be difficult to do, but the payoff can be enormous. Companies with the highest productivity rates outperform their peers by up to 40%, and they enjoy higher profits, operating margins, and growth rates. Solution-based leadership is one way to increase productivity at your business.
Solution-based leadership works by identifying the problem and figuring out the best way to solve it. It avoids the “why” question and concentrates on “what can we do now” rather than “what can we do to make this better.” Leaders in this mindset also don’t worry about blaming others, instead focusing on the “what can we do now” and “how can we make this better.”
Characteristics of a Solution-Based leader
1. A solution-based leader is someone who is focused on finding solutions to problems, rather than simply identifying and pointing out the problems.
2. A solution-based leader is someone who is open to new ideas and willing to try new things in order to find a solution that works.
3. A solution-based leader is someone who is able to see the big picture and think outside the box in order to find creative solutions to problems.
4. A solution-based leader is someone who is able to build consensus and get buy-in from others when it comes to finding a solution to a problem.
5. A solution-based leader is someone who understands that there is not always a perfect solution to every problem, but that the best solution is often the one that works best for the situation at hand.
Advantages of Solution-Based Leadership
1. Increased Productivity
One of the primary advantages of solution-based leadership is that it can lead to increased productivity. When leaders are focused on finding solutions to problems, they are more likely to come up with creative and innovative solutions that can help to improve efficiency and productivity. Additionally, solution-based leaders are often better at problem-solving and decision-making, which can also lead to increased productivity.
2. Improved Morale
Solution-based leadership can also improve morale among employees. When employees feel like their leaders are committed to finding solutions to problems, they will feel more motivated and engaged in their work. Additionally, employees will feel appreciated and valued when their leaders take the time to listen to their suggestions and feedback.
3. Enhanced Communication
Solution-based leadership can also enhance communication between leaders and employees. When leaders are focused on finding solutions, they are more likely to solicit input from employees and encourage open dialogue. This type of communication can help to build trust and understanding between leaders and employees, which can lead to more productive and positive relationships.
4. Greater Engagement
Solution-based leadership can also lead to greater employee engagement. When employees feel like their leaders are invested in finding solutions, they will be more likely to be engaged in their work and committed to the success of the organization. Additionally, employees who feel like their voices are being heard and valued are more likely to be satisfied with their jobs and less likely to leave the organization.
5. Increased Customer Satisfaction
Finally, solution-based leadership can also lead to increased customer satisfaction. When organizations are focused on finding solutions to problems, they are more likely to provide high-quality products and services that meet customer needs and expectations. Additionally, customers will appreciate the fact that organizations are constantly striving to improve their offerings
Disadvantages of Solution-Based Leadership
1. Limited Timeframe
One of the primary disadvantages of solution-based leadership is that it is typically only effective for a limited period of time. This type of leadership is often used in response to a specific problem or crisis, and once the problem has been resolved, the solution-based leader is no longer needed. This can create a situation where the leader is constantly changing, which can be disruptive to the organization.
2. Not Effective in All Situations
Solution-based leadership is also not effective in all situations. This type of leadership works best when there is a clear problem that needs to be addressed, and when the leader has the knowledge and expertise to develop an effective solution. If the problem is not well-defined, or if the leader does not have the necessary skills, solution-based leadership may not be successful.
3. Requires High levels of Expertise
Another disadvantage of solution-based leadership is that it requires high levels of expertise. The leader must be able to identify the problem and develop an effective solution. This can be difficult to do, especially if the problem is complex or if there are multiple stakeholders involved.
4. Can Be Overly Prescriptive
Solution-based leaders can also be overly prescriptive, which can limit creativity and innovation within the organization. The leader may have a specific vision for how the problem should be solved, and this vision may not align with the ideas of other members of the organization. As a result, members of the organization may feel that they are not able to contribute their own ideas or solutions.
5. May Not Be Sustainable
Finally, solution-based leadership may not be sustainable over the long term. Once the problem has been solved, there may be no need for the leader to continue in their role. Additionally, if the solution is not effective, or if it creates new problems, solution-based leadership may not be successful in the long term.