During my years as a coach and business consultant, I have been asked many times if there is a secret to winning. I know of no secret; however, I have a very simple answer: ———- teams that solve the most problems win. The answer is that simple: “Those who solve the most problems win.”
For me, a problem is anything that stands between where I am and where I want to be; some call these things barriers, obstacles, or roadblocks. Many business consultants prefer to call them challenges rather than problems. I believe that when teams don’t address their challenges, they become problems.
Usually after I have answered this first question, the next question is—- Is there an easy way to solve problems? Again, my answer is, I know of no easy way to solve problems, but I do believe team problems can be solved easier if;
you as a leader follow these basic steps:
(1) First you must become aware of the problem.
(2) Acknowledge that there is value gained by solving the problem.
(3) Acknowledge that any problem that affects the performance level of any team member is a team problem.
(4) Make a good decision to solve the problem.
(5) Take action to efficiently implement the good decision.
(6) Measure the results to determine the effectiveness of the decision made and the action taken.
1. How do you become aware of a problem? You create an environment for all team members where they feel safe to come forward with all of their ideas about any problems that they believe are affecting their personal performance, or the performance of the team.
2. How do you determine if there is value to gain from solving a problem? This one is easy. You ask yourself and others on the team, “If this problem is removed, would we be more productive or effective in our efforts to reach our goals?” If the answer is no, forget that problem and move on to the next one.
3. How do you know if a problem of an individual team member affects all of the team? We frequently view individual team member problems as only the problem of the person who is experiencing it. Effective team leaders realize that any problem that negatively impacts the productivity of any member of the team will impact the ability of the entire team to reach its goals. By acknowledging all problems as team problems, everyone can focus on solving the problem, rather than focusing on who, or what to blame.
4. How do you make good decisions that lead to solving the problem? You ask for ideas and solutions from everyone who is impacted by the problem. When leaders ask for input from team members and use their information to make their decisions, members feel a sense of ownership, causing them to be more supportive and work harder to effectively implement the decision.
5. How do you implement the good decisions once they are made? You make sure that everyone is aware of the decision. Provide clarity for what is to be done, why it must be done, who is going to do it, and when it is going to be done.
6. How do you know if your decision has solved the problem? You objectively measure the results of the actions taken by your decision, before and after implementation.
After sharing my thoughts about winning and success—- I usually end the conversation with: are you willing to accept the possibility that you can learn and grow— and become an even better leader? This is the question that all parents, all business and government leaders must continuously ask themselves.
John Wooden (perhaps the greatest collegiate basketball coach in the sport’s history) stated that one of the most important reasons his teams stayed on top and continued winning for so many years was their willingness to be open to the possibility that there might be even better ways to do things. Coach Wooden not only acknowledged this, he did something about it. He constantly had his teams scouted, asking other players, coaches, officials, friends, and spectators what they saw and what they thought could make his teams even better. He attributed much of his success as a coach to his willingness to ask for help from others and listen to their ideas and suggestions. Considering that there may be an even better way to do things, and being willing to make changes, is a common characteristic among all successful leaders.
About the Author
Bill Ballester is one of the most effective coaches in the country. He has made the transition from university professor and one of the nation’s premier men’s gymnastics coaches to a nationally known speaker, author, and leader in the field of team building. Whether, working with a profit-oriented business or a federal government agency, or sharing his thoughts with committed parents, Bill brings the same enthusiasm and intensity that earned him Hall of fame honors, and a lifetime winning percentage of 88-percent as a gymnastics coach.