Tuesday, July 23, 2013

DEVELOPING LEADERSHIP SKILLS Part 2: Are you a Goal Setter or a Problem Solver?

Are you a Goal Setter or a Problem Solver?
(not interpersonal problems but tasks or situational)

This section is less about how to be a goal setting or problem solving leader, but more about which type you are.  In the first sections, title Goal Setting Leader and Problem Solving Leader, perform each of the exercises quickly and without stress.  Just do it, and when asked, write the answers or results down.

GOAL SETTING LEADER: 

1) Close your eyes, and imagine where you want to be in 5 years - spend a few minutes, relaxed and with your eyes closed. Think about a place, an activity and what success might look like for you in five years. 

2) Write down what you saw: include how you felt about it, and why it might be important to you to be there. If you had any negative pictures or thoughts, things you did not want, also write them down.

3) Now write down 5 things you need to do to get to that vision: Don't spend a lot of time or energy on this.  Just the first 5 things that pop into your mind should be noted.

4) Rate how hard that was for you to do on a scale from 1 to 5, 1 being easy and 5 being hard.


PROBLEM SOLVER LEADER:

Problem: How do you get more teens involved in _______. When we ran the exercise with out leadership program, we asked the students how to get teens more involved in our traditional martial arts program. 

1) Brain Storm the Problem: (Brain storming means you come up with at least 3 ideas, regardless of their viability, from yourself or your team. You work each solution separately as if it was workable; then you evaluate the ideas. When we ran this section in our leadership programs, we split the class into teams of 3, and gave them 10 minutes to come up with 3 to 5 ideas.  It is critical to set a short amount of time and a minimum number of ideas.)

A problem solver realizes that ideas and creativity only exist within a non-judgmentally environment. The leaders also know they will decide at the end of the day, which to follow, or if they need more ideas, so there is no need to judge at the beginning. Just brain storm.

In the example we choose above, about teens into our program, we asked them to answer 3 questions using brain storming.  You can use them, or 3 others more appropriate to your situation.  Notice we asked 2 questions about what we are already doing, and only one about what to change.  

2) Answer these questions:

     a) What draws teens into the program?
         Please give 3 answers.


     b) What draws teens away from the program? 
          Please give 3 answers.

     c) What can we do that would excite teens more? 

3) Rate how hard that was for you to do on a scale from 1 to 5, 1 being easy and 5 being hard.

Finding out What Type of Leader You are:

Every leader needs to be able to set goals, then pursue them with a plan of action.  Normally, once you have your plan of action, you prioritize your actions from most important to least important, then you let your team loose on the resulting plan.  From time to time you evaluate the process making sure that they are making progress and that the action points are still relevant.  A critical part of goal setting is to set a time period to achieve both the action points and the end result.  These set points also need to be evaluated from time to time.

Every leader also needs to be a problem solver.  In the goal setting example above, the team may very well run into a problem achieving one of the set points, and then problem solving may need to be called into action.  However, about 10% of leaders start and end with Problem Solving and only move to goal setting if their primary method fails or they have goal setters within their team.

If you scored both examples low, 1 or 2, you just need more experience leading to know what type of leader you are.  If you scored both examples high, 4 or 5, you make be a very skilled leader or you need to apply more introspection.  Being both a goal setter and a problem solver is kind of like being a switch hitter.  You can do both, but when the pressure is on, a batter always has a side he/she hits better from.  

Most leaders will find they score high on one type of leadership and low on another.  There is nothing good or bad about either approach, however, it is generally best if you work within your strengths whenever possible.  So if you are a goal setter, set goals and if you are a problem solver, solve problems.

Statistics on Problem Solvers come from Stop Setting Goals If You Would Rather Solve Problems by Bobb Biehl.
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To read Part 1, Leadership Skills, What Type of Leader are You?, Click Here.

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