When the solution to a problem seems particularly troublesome, or the impact of an unaddressed problem causes havoc, the best leaders take the time to “admire the problem” before they attempt to wrestle it to the ground.
Admiring a problem requires us to understand it more deeply: why it has proven difficult to get a handle on, and/or why it has been so destructive. By appreciating the profound consequences of a problem and sitting with it for awhile, a leader creates the needed distance to view it objectively.
Admiring a problem sometimes results in seeing a facet of the problem hidden from view from those not steeped in it. Even when a fresh perspective doesn’t result, spending considerable time with a problem and its consequences allows a leader to motivate the team to get up and get ready for the challenge of conquering the issue at hand.
Former NBA Executive Sam Hinkie, who is known for creative solutions to long-standing problems, likes to say he lets a problem settle. “I don’t mind being alone with my opinion (about a problem) for a very long time,” says Hinkie.
The time spent without a solution can sometimes produce a new pathway forward. So, take the time to admire a gnarly problem and ask your team to do so, as well. You might be surprised by what you learn.