Leadership with Ability to Solve Problems
Authored by: Belgrano Day School: Nicolás Feijoo & María Inés Panighini
The objective of this paper is to assess whether leaders should only have the ability to solve problems or if there are other necessary qualities or attributes that they should have. To tackle this question, we invited students to join a Baraza discussion group to explore different perspectives on this topic and listen to a wide range of opinions. The Baraza group consisted of nine individuals (from 14 to 17 years old) and was moderated by the 2 Student Research Ambassadors. What followed was a beautiful and enriching debate between the participants. After the Baraza meeting, the Research Ambassadors reviewed the conclusions to the discussions and analyzed the outcomes in-depth.
One of the topics most of the individuals agreed on when talking about the abilities a leader should have when solving problems was communication and approachability. This was also clearly visible in the interviews that took place during the second stage of this project; even our first interviewee mentioned that “the quality of a good leader is being approachable…” A leader needs to take into account his/her peers’ points of view when evaluating how to move forward in a project or when a problem arises.
The point that most people in our Baraza group defended was that in order to be a good leader you should be able to solve problems given the fact that they state that leaders need to know how to handle people and work in groups. This idea is also supported by the definition of the ability to solve problems given by Round Square:
The ability and confidence to think clearly and creatively to lead the way in tackling problems. They invite, listen to, and act on, the counsel, suggestions, and opinions of others, and are ready to collaborate and consider all alternatives to find the best possible solution(s) given the circumstances.
The interviewees considered that having brainstorming sessions could serve as an effective strategy to solve problems since everyone gets the opportunity to express and explain their ideas. Then, having all of these in mind, the leader would analyse the best approach for their situation. The participants in the Baraza who supported this idea thought that to be a leader you have to be in charge of people. Even though you should listen and consider other’s views, a leader must be able to give orders if needed. The members of the team support decision making by presenting solutions to problems. This idea is very well explained by Dr. Paul G. Schempp. He suggests that “leaders with creative problem-solving skills have the ability to stimulate, challenge and inspire others to continually pursue prominent problems and devise creative solutions to feed future organizational growth and success”. (2017)
The following topic led to a debate since some of the participants of the Baraza thought the ability to solve problems was indispensable in a leader, but others held different opinions and thought other qualities were more important, such as planning ahead of time. In fact, when analysing the way leaders should function in terms of the qualities they should have, our discussion led to two different perspectives and opinions: time management and their way of getting things done. This is also addressed by Susan Ward in the article “What is Leadership?”, where she expresses the need for leaders have of critical thinking skills for most of their tasks, including management.
The first perspective, defended by four of our Baraza members, was the idea of a leader having multiple assistants to organize their agendas or people keeping track of what needs to be done. Their main point was that a leader should not have to focus on administrative tasks. Their objective should be to solve problems and make sure things are going well, the organization should be taken care of for them. This means that leaders can give their full attention to strategic planning, which refers to the thinking and the use of certain actions in order to solve and prevent problems. In a team, everyone has a role and as leaders have many responsibilities to take care of, managing their agendas does not have to be one of them.
On the other hand, the other five individuals of the Baraza thought organization is crucial in a leader. The point defended by them was that a leader should not have to depend on someone else’s organizational skills, they should be able to plan ahead of time on their own and keep track of future events and meetings without another person reminding them, which would also help with their ability to plan strategically.
Although there were some differences between the ideas of the participants, we finally all agreed upon what qualities a leader should have. Some of them took into account his/her peers’ points of view; planning ahead of time (either in groups or on their own) and the ability to communicate fluently so that the message is clear and doesn’t lead to misinterpretation. It is curious that in our Baraza group we had different perspectives, especially when talking about whether leaders should plan ahead on their own, or with help. We all agreed that it is really necessary to be able to solve problems in order to be a good leader, even though a few participants thought it was less important than some of the other qualities mentioned above.
Schempp, Paul G., Dr. “The Critical Leadership Skill of Creative Problem-solving.” The Persimmon Group, June 2017, www.thepersimmongroup.com/critical-leadership-skill-creative-problem-solving/.
Ward, Susan. “What Is Leadership?” The Balance Smb, Sept. 2020, www.thebalancesmb.com/leadership-definition-2948275#:~:text=Leadership%20is%2 0the%20art%20of,how%20it%20can%20benefit%20businesses.