Tippy-Toe Leaders and Other Dysfunctional Problem-Solvers

We might be able to fake leadership in breezy weather, but dark seas are bright lights.

The way you deal with problems is more important than the problems themselves.


3 dysfunctional problem-solvers:

#1. Tippy-toe leaders.

Tippy-toe leaders worry about personalities, politics, and public perception. You can’t ignore these issues. Just don’t make them central.

Tippy-toe leaders prolong problems by producing tippy-toe solutions.

Cure: Stretch your candor muscles behind closed doors with trusted colleagues until you feel confident enough to address tough issues head-on in public.

#2. Drama-making leaders.

Drama-making leaders spend more energy complaining about problems than actually working to solve them. They just can’t believe this could happen.

Drama-makers aggravate problems by adding heat.

Cure: Adopt a make-it-better approach. Ask, “How am I making things better with my attitude, words, and behaviors?”

Use the energy of stress to turn your attention to solutions.

#3. Face-saving leaders.

Face-savers worry more about appearances than results. Face-saving leaders:

  1. Hide tough issues from higher ups.
  2. Minimize real problems.
  3. Have things in control, when they’re actually covering their butts.

Sadly, in dysfunctional organizations, face-savers succeed.

Cure: The best way to save face is to own problems and work toward solutions, even if the problems aren’t your fault. Be known as a solution provider, not a self-protective face-saver.

5 more dysfunctional problem-solvers:

  1. Hand-holding leaders. 
  2. Horse blinker leaders.
  3. Bullying leaders.
  4. Finger-pointing leaders.
  5. Dark cloud leaders.

10 possible questions when confronted with problems:

  1. Why does this matter?
  2. What have you already done to solve this problem?
  3. How are customers impacted by this problem?
  4. What internal teams/individuals are impacted by this problem?
  5. What do you assume is true?
  6. Who needs to be part of the solution?
  7. If things were going perfectly, what would it look like?
  8. What would you like from me?
  9. What questions would you like to ask?
  10. What’s next?

What dysfunctional problem-solving strategies have you experienced?

What problem-solving tips might you suggest?