Friday, February 13, 2009

stop the blaming

Want to know why it takes so long to solve problems? Its because people blame others for starting the problem. Think about it...once a problem is encountered, the person whom it is affecting should attempt to solve it right away. If that person needs help, then they should go to whomever they think can best help solve the problem, and the two of them should dialogue about solutions toward fixing the problem. They should then decide on a solution and move forward with it, informing everyone who needs to know how the problem has been solved. A couple of emails...a few face to face chats...a little bit of research...sometimes having to give something up to get something else...but the problem is solved and people move ahead.

What I keep seeing happening is that when someone encounters a problem, they immediately want to blame someone or something else as the cause of that problem occuring. They do not want to take the responsibility of fixing it - or of sitting down with another person and listening to all sides of the issue. Most problems/issues are very minor - but they take up so much energy because people begin to lose focus on the problem and instead focus on blaming others. What can we do?

Here are a few thoughts from my lifetime of fixing problems:
1. Consider problem solving a part of your job. If people did not make mistakes, most of us would not have jobs to begin with.
2. Address problems as fixable - there is always a solution out justs may take some time to get at it.
3. Realize that problems occur because of mistakes - and mistakes can be corrected. Correct the mistake and move on.
4. Don't blame anyone for causing the problem (remember, people make mistakes). See the problem as a problem, NOT as something that someone else did to mess things up. A problem is not a person - it is an inanimate thing that you can have control over.
5. As you go about fixing the problem, don't let the mistakes of others get you upset. Forgive others as you fix the problem.
6. Once the problem is fixed, do not dwell on the past - move forward and wait for the next problem to come your way.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Jefferson Howell

I had the opportunity to interview General Jefferson Howell yesterday as a part of our Spend Your Lunch with...Speaker Series. "Beak" was leading the Johnson Space Center at the time of the Columbia explosion which killed all seven crew members on board. His reminiscing of the event and his actions brought to mind several thoughts on leadership:

1. Leadership is about people - General Howell took care of the families of the astronauts as well as the extended family of all those who worked at the Johnson Space Center

2. Leadership is about mission and vision - General Howell had to get everyone re-focused in order to get back into space. Rather than playing the blame game, he helped them move forward again after the devastation.

3. Leadership is about people AND mission - General Howell could never just focus on one or the other. He had to make sure that people were taken care of and that NASA moved forward in in its mission. The interesting paradox is that as he took care of people, the mission was accomplished even more quickly.

One other of "Beak's Rules of Leadership" included the adage Don't argue with an idiot. Arguing with an "idiot" can take a lot of time and no one really wins. I'm going to remember that for awhile - but I am going to remember General Howell and his leadership style for much longer!