Overcoming Obstacles

Vince Lombardi is famous for saying: “Obstacles are what you see when you take your eyes off the goal.”

Take a look at the picture above. These guys are training to be heroes. This reminds me of my need to be a problem solver. Most success is directly related to the leader’s ability to problem solve. In the case of these soldiers, their ability to take a bit of a hit for each other, or experience pain for the team is what leads to their excellence. Make no mistake–as you lead–you will take the hits, you will experience pain. Mitigating the severity is a key to great leadership.

If the obstacle confronts you, the leader…

Sheer determination is key. It sets the relevant leader apart. It’s what makes the difference. At times the solution is found in the “grit.” You just need to hunker down and get over the wall, plow the field, or do the task. However, if the obstacles involve people (which they usually do) the strategy changes. To overcome you will need to devise strategies to minimize the resistance. Effective strategies that minimize resistance will mean the difference between making headway and bouncing back.

If the obstacle confronts the team…

Pulling a group of diverse individuals is hard enough. To do so for the overcoming of an obstacle is all the more difficult. However, it must be done. You need to tap the creative thinking that a team can provide. Your leadership will be shown in steering the solution, implementing the correct approach, assigning the action items and rewarding the team members that make it happen.

Here are some tactics that may help you motivate and direct the team response.

1. Share as much information as possible. People do not work well in the dark.

2. Work with the willing. Even with an “A” team assembled, not everyone on the team will be the star player at any given time.

3. Provide the right amount of guidance. People who are more capable than you will still look to you for your leadership.

4. Work side by side when necessary. In the noise of confusion, your presence in the midst of doubt will do more to help clarify thoughts than anything else.

5. Stretch your people beyond their current talents and abilities. You will be amazed at how effectively they will work when they see growth in their own thinking and abilities.

6. Make it fun, actionable, and highly visible. Most of us–growing up–enjoyed a puzzle or a challenge. Reframe the solution as a challenge that will be fun to discover. Bring a picture similar to the one above to the meeting.

7. Let them feel the weight of the challenge. Fun is… well, fun. It can help us to motivate. However, at the end of the day, the task is serious. Let them see what rests on a favorable solution.

8. Reward them. When the wall has been scaled, get them together, and do something special. Recognize the one(s) who drove the solution. Our drivers are our most important assets. Empower them for the next time around.