The #1 Problem Every Leader Has But Isn’t Aware Of.


As I have come to appreciate, Mike posted some very thought provoking articles I enjoy reading and responding to.

In this article, Mike hits on a number of leadership topics. The first, is problem-solving skills. The second, is the application of that skill when leaders are affected by myopia. And the third, how to improve problem-solving by not tackling the problem in the first person but to actually be a leader who leads others in the problem-solving process. Mike then recommends this 15 point framework within which to address problem-solving.

I think I hit all the points he makes, or at least the important ones.

Having worked with leaders and as a leader for over 20 years I am quite familiar with the first three issues. It is too often the case that leaders take on an operational role instead of sticking to their leadership role and this can mess things up to no end. Quite rightly, as Mike points out, by being myopic. When a leaders steps into that more operational role they tend to lose the perspective they need to guide others in the direction the company is going in. Beyond this loss of direction, not being very good at the operational stuff the leader also risks losing credibility with those who report to them which can lead to even more significant consequences for the company and the leader.

In my view, leadership is the use of power for economic purposes. Where power is the influencing the outcome of the decision-making process. A leader who has to step into an operational role is no in condition to exercise power thus potentially discrediting their own leadership position. A big no-no!

As for the framework Mike recommends I find it useful but a bit complex. My own work has led me to a more straight-forward framework that I hope is okay to share here. It is similar in may aspects to the above so I think it may useful to the discussion.

All business is based on the ownership or control of an asset that provides a significant enough competitive advantage within that particular market to allow a viable and robust business to be built upon it. This asset is known as the “key component”. If a leader organizes and manages the business processes (just two types: operations and risk management) with an eye on maximizing the return on the key component then the leader can make significantly decisions.

By referring all decisions to the key component decision-makers are obliged to question all the premises and assumptions on which the business has been built including the strength of the competitive advantage thereby avoiding the pitfall of investing on an obsolete product or service. Likewise, this focus on the key component permits the business to know when it is time to change key components. The clarity of purpose this framework provides helps the leader lead the whole business and allows all those collaborating with them to proactively participate in the problem-solving process. The leader maintains their leadership role.