Do You Have A Problem?

He is a seasoned executive who has navigated the corporate world successfully. He is responsible for hundreds of employees and hundreds of thousands of dollars of the company's budget. Recently, we were discussing his future and what the next season of his life might look like and the discussion took a turn toward decision-making. He said, "Many times leaders make decisions based on what they are facing and feeling in the moment. We need to step back and simply ask 'what is the problem that we are trying to solve?'." He continued, "When we make decisions simply to relieve the pain, we find ourselves addressing the symptoms and not the real issue. I have found it very helpful to step back and force myself to define the true problem before making a decision." 
While this may sound easy, many action-oriented leaders make decisions based on the surface circumstances instead of the root causes. Slowing down to define the problem takes discipline and insight. It is easy to attack a situation with "guns blazing" in an effort to quickly solve the dilemma. Most of the time this results in a shortsighted solution that is nothing more than a temporary fix. The problem still exists and in the long run will return with a vengeance. 
Instead of simply filling holes or plugging leaks, slow down to define the true nature of the problem. What are we trying to accomplish in the long term? Why are we trying to accomplish this? How will this solution truly benefit the company? 
Take this a step further…. What about your personal life decisions? Are we willing to make decisions based on the real issue or do we find an instant fix that feels good? Are we willing to define the deep issues in our relationships and work to address those issues or do we act with selfish motivation? 
This simple but profound truth can change and enhance our lives as leaders. Choose to stop and define the real problem before solving it and you will make a difference! 
- Larry