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Everyone Likes a Problem Solver. Here’s How You Can Build This Key Leadership Skill

Problem-solving is a key leadership skill that differentiates great leaders from those who are simply in charge. Read on and find out how you can build this critical skill.

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Problem-solving is a key leadership skill that differentiates great leaders from those who are simply in charge. Read on and find out how you can build this critical skill.

Photo credit: andreas

The importance of problem-solving skills cannot be overstated. Generally, problem-solving refers to a person's capacity to handle and solve complicated and unexpected problems properly. It’s a key leadership skill that differentiates great leaders from those who are simply in charge. Leaders who master this skill are able to apply career building blocks such as education, years of experience, and certifications to real-world problems and opportunities.

Challenges are a given in today's world of ever-evolving technology, dynamic workplace culture, markets, and the likes. More so, solutions used to solve problems a decade ago are not all applicable in modern times. Therefore, to stand out by always being one step ahead, you must improve your problem-solving skills. The good news is that by the time you finish reading this post, you will be well equipped with steps that will help you build this key leadership skill. 

Starting with…


Identify the problem and focus on the solution

Identifying the core issue behind a problem often requires research and careful consideration. It involves asking questions and trying to figure out precisely what’s wrong. However, it's tempting to get caught up in the details of what caused the problem in the first place. Neuroscientists have it that your brain cannot find solutions if you focus on the problem.

This is because concentrating on the problem feeds the brain negativity, which in turn, triggers negative emotions. These emotions block potential solutions. Therefore, to become an effective problem solver, always search for possible outcomes and solutions instead of focusing on the problem. It will help you see things more positively and discover fresh solutions.

For example, consider a situation where team members are at odds. Rather than jumping to conclusions, try to determine what sparked the misunderstanding. Focus on the solution using conflict-resolution techniques. If the conflict is between two employees, help them resolve it on their own through encouraging, listening, and compromise.



Practicing problem-solving techniques can help you get more comfortable with the process. Be on the lookout for opportunities to solve issues both at work and at home. Consider collaborating with a colleague in your industry to tackle hypothetical but real-world problems. 

Alternatively, you can consider joining an established committee or starting your own to address a particular issue. You may, for example, join a community group that’s working to minimize waste in your community. As the saying goes, practice makes?


Take a course on problem-solving

Enrolling in a problem-solving program can help you get unstuck whenever you run into a roadblock at work or in your personal life. You will gain an understanding of the best practices, ideas, and scientific approaches for problem-solving and decision-making. You will be able to make better decisions faster and more effectively at a corporate and individual level.

Other benefits of taking a problem-solving course include:


  • Identifying and eliminating biases that could jeopardize the values of the organization

  • Obtaining innovative ideas that aid in the development of an organization

  • Increased productivity due to faster problem-solving

  • Getting to the base of the problem rather than superficial fixes

  • Being open to new ideas and embracing challenges as opportunities to grow intellectually.

  • Better team building and morale due to effective problem-solving


Keep an open mind

Now more than ever, we live in a constantly changing world. If you're trying to tackle a tricky problem, it's best to keep an open mind. Being open-minded involves being responsive to a wide range of perspectives, facts, and theories. 

To be a better problem solver, you must be open-minded, which is founded on compassion, benevolence, and self-awareness. An open mind can explore all possible answers to a problem without ego or concern for the repercussions.  As a matter of fact, it’s the difference between thinking inside vs. outside the metaphorical box. It will help you see problems from multiple angles, which will allow you to come up with more creative solutions.


Exercise your brain

You'll need to exercise your problem-solving reflexes regularly, just like a muscle in your body. Over time, it will become more potent and efficient. In fact, researchers have found that activities such as brain games can help you become more intellectually limber.

Playing brain-boosting games like Sudoku, chess, and Rubik's Cube on your phone is an excellent place to start. You can use the winning strategies from these games and apply them to real-world strategic thinking scenarios. Alternatively, you can adopt a bookworm culture and read more books to broaden your views and knowledge.



The capacity to solve problems comes down to your mindset, which is defined by how you respond to challenges and transform them into opportunities for growth. As a leader, the next time you run into a problem, look at it as an opportunity to improve your skills.  As Friedrich Nietzsche once said, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!

Written by

Bret Leon Asugo

Bret Leon Asugo is a creative content writer with industry expertise in ghostwriting, copywriting, guest posting, and corporate blogging. He works closely with B2B and B2C businesses providing content that is optimized for search engine rankings and gains social media traction. A writer by day and reader by night, he believes that everything has been said. But nobody has said it with your voice.

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