The Problem / Potential Pendulum
Leaders deal with problems. Most of us don’t relish the idea, but it’s part of our calling; we have to deal with a lot of problems.
A typical piece of advice about dealing with problems is to see them as opportunities or potential rather than just problems. That is helpful. If we focus only on the problem, we can grow discouraged. As leaders, this is important because people do not follow negativity well.
However, if we only focus on the potential (or minimize the problem), we risk being naïve or worse, delusional leaders.
Healthy leadership is found in a balance of recognizing/embracing the problem but at the same time seeing the potential or opportunities that problems often reveal. This balance is not just crucial for our own sanity – it is also critical to how well we lead others. If we focus only on the problems, we will discourage people. But if we just focus on the potential and ignore the problem, we will lead people into naivety.
So, problems or potential? Both!
Healthy leadership recognizes both and avoids the ditches that are beyond either side of the pendulum.