There are two levels of leadership required to solve problems.
The first doesn’t require much skill. It’s the ability to solve problems other people created. All you need to be is the new guy.
The new guy rushes in on his white horse wielding a shiny sword. The horse and sword are effective for a year or two before they getting tarnished and dirty, but you can take credit for cleaning up problems the last guys created. And then you get stuck.
The next stage does takes a much higher level of leadership.
After a year or two on the job, the only thing left to solve are the problems you created.
Faced with that, many leaders do one of two things:
1. Ignore the problem, making their weaknesses and deficiencies the new status quo.
2. Move on, never serving more than 3-5 years in any one organization.
The options are alternatively like settling for a bad marriage or expecting your third marriage to fix the problems your first and second marriages didn’t.
The truly courageous leader sticks around and solves the problems he or she created.
To do that successfully, you need to do at least three things:
1. Take an honest look in the mirror every day. Admit that you created the problem, and you are charged with solving it. (This by the way, will grow your faith. And make you a much better person in the process.)
2. Get great people around you. People who both love you and tell you the honest truth about yourself are the best people in the world to work with and have as friends.
3. Ask hard questions. The longer you stick around, the more important it is for you to ask the ‘elephant in the room” questions. If you stop asking them, your team will too. And you’ll alienate the very people who will make your organization excellent over the long haul.
So like every leader, you have a choice about the kind of leader you will be. But please know it’s only the second kind that takes real courage.
What are you learning about solving the problems you’ve created?