It is very tempting to just fix problems. People often say with pride “I am a problem solver.” Being a leader is partly about finding solutions to problems and so you should always endeavour to do that. However, what I believe is much more difficult but more important to fix the cause of the problem.
I know of a boss who constantly reprimanded a member of staff who was often late. The employee’s lateness was a problem for the rest of the staff so it did need to be dealt with and the way the boss fixed the problem was by putting the employee on notice that if they were late again, disciplinary action would be taken.
If this boss had tried to find the cause of the problem they would have discovered that their employee looked after their elderly parent and needed to wait for the day carer to arrive. Being a private person, the employee didn't want to discuss her personal problems with anyone. The result was that the employee left – which was a shame because they were a good employee.
Some people say that it costs money they don’t have or time to try and resolve the causes of problems. My philosophy is that it costs even more not to do so.
A little bit about me: People have many preconceptions about the type of person who runs a charity but as the CEO of RAFT, which finds new ways of treating the injured, I’m very different from the norm. I think and act like an entrepreneur (I ran my own consultancy for years) and won’t put limits on myself so achieve a lot. One example was launching our subsidiary Smart Matrix Ltd in January 2012 and in the space of six months exceeding our £2m fundraising target by £600K.
By heading RAFT and helping lots of people to make lots of little changes, I hope to create a big difference. I want the thing I’m most proud of in my life to be something I have yet to do.