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Solutions, Not Problems!

June 24, 2015 4 comments

My absolute favorite leadership quote of all time comes from philosopher Karl Popper:

“The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded that you don’t care. Either case is a failure of leadership.” – Karl Popper

IMO, no other leadership quote comes close to hitting the nail on the head as Mr. Popper’s. Do you wanna know why? Because over my long and un-illustrious career, I’ve heard some anointed leaders say the equivalent of this:

“Don’t bring me problems, bring me solutions!”

I’ve heard that at least three times, and all three times I’ve thought:

If you’re not here to help solve your soldier’s problems problems too, then what do you do here besides watch numbers, approve/disapprove actions, reduce costs, and strut around; why are you even here at all?

Anyone with half of a brain in their head knows that saying shit like “don’t bring me your problems” drives important problems underground. And under the surface, they fester, grow, and morph into downstream crises that eat into the treasury from which these “keep your problems to yourselves” leaders draw their personal sustenance.

Great leaders encourage their troops to bring their problems forth into the light. Then they roll up their sleeves, jump into the tar pit, and help as much as they can, where they can. Paradoxically, this style is called “servant leadership“, and Theory-X managers just don’t get it. They never have, and never will. Solutions Not Problems In case you’re wondering why the nerd in the cartoon is just thinking the word “Clueless” instead of saying it out loud, it’s because:

To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize. ~ Voltaire

Where Did The Soldiers Go?

April 28, 2012 Leave a comment

If you’re a leader (anointed or otherwise) and the only access to you is communicated via the classic “my door is always open” and “suggestion box” yawners, then you won’t have to mind-wrestle with this vexing Poppercornism:

The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded that you don’t care. Either case is a failure of leadership. – Karl Popper

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