Leadership Ostrich Style - The Art of Problem Avoidance

By Jeff DeWolf - April 2, 2013 - Humble LeadershipLeadershipOrganizational Health

As part of my planning for an upcoming leadership book called Pretender – Confessions of a Crappy Leader, I was reminded of a behaviour that’s all too common among those claiming the mantle of leadership: problem avoidance.  

Leadership Role: Chief Problem Solver

Problems pop up all the time.  Large or small, they take the form of process difficulties, people issues, conflicts at work, communication gaps, etc.  Unfortunately, much of the time, these are seen as disruptions and irritations rather than opportunities to lead.  Strong leaders see one of their roles as being that of the chief problem solver of the organization.  Since we are often not the doers of the work, the least we can do is spend some of our time making the work easier to do.

If not you, who?

I am frequently guilty of the “hope it will go away” strategy of problem solving.  When the crisis is over or the flare up has settled, I’m tempted to breathe a sigh of relief and go back to doing what I want to do.  After all, problem resolution takes intentional effort and time.   I admit that I tend to hope that the issue won’t happen again rather than respond to the issue with action.  In short, I put my head in the sand and try to pretend everything is fine.  As leaders we are called to ensure that our people are equipped to be successful.  If a problem arises, it’s our duty and responsibility to investigate, address, and resolve it quickly.  In fact, it’s downright lazy and cowardly to stick our heads in the sand, leaving a problem to recur and continue to interfere with the work of our team.

Like a cancer, unresolved organizational problems fester, grow, and eventually create major pain and suffering.  When we retreat into the safety of our executive suites, our inaction drives our people crazier by the day.  We as leaders need to put aside our personal agendas and ensure that we tackle problems head on.  In addition to the obvious operational benefits, respect for our leadership, as well as trust in our competence will grow as a result.

Jeffrey J. De Wolf is the founder and managing principal of Overland Park based Wolf Prairie, LLC (www.crywolfnow.com). He has a passion for diagnosing organizational health issues and prescribing practical, business-oriented solutions. He can be reached at jdewolf@wolfprairie.com or 913-219-5353.

 “This content originally posted on www.prevuehr.com/blog


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