What Problem are you Trying to Solve?

John Fenzel Blog "Leadership: What Problem Are You Solving?"

When I first started speaking on the topic of leadership, a friend asked me, “What problem are you trying to solve?” It caught me somewhat off-guard, but it was exactly the right question to ask, because it focused me toward what I knew was an unmet need.

The “Problem Statement.”  

I thought about that question a lot—What problem are you trying to solve?  The answer I arrived at was pretty fundamental. Time and time again, I saw leadership to be widely misunderstood, as both a concept and as a practice. While we often like to think we can sit in a classroom, read a book, or listen to a lecture and understand what it means to be a leader, it’s not enough. Because leadership can’t be simply taught. To be effective, it must be experienced over time, and the values necessary to sustain leaders require time to become firmly grounded.

Values: The Guideposts of Leadership.

Values are versatile. They apply to individuals and teams. They provide a foundation, as well as vital building blocks of leadership.  

Core values, too, are misunderstood.  Ignored are the real consequences if that gap of understanding isn’t addressed.

Without a common understanding of personal or organizational values, things begin to go astray because we lack all of the necessary guideposts to stay on course.

An Inclusive Concept

There’s a prevailing belief that some people are leaders and others are not. I reject that view. I believe we are all leaders in our own right, because we lead first, through our own example. We can do it well, or we can do it poorly.

From the moment we entered this world, though, the potential has always there for us to be great leaders. And yet, so often, the opportunity is easily squandered, diverted, or traded away.

Nonetheless, for any of us, the potential to lead well is always there for each of us.

So, here’s my strongest belief—Leadership is not an exclusive concept, it’s inclusive. Nor is it a radical or extreme idea—it’s about being the best you can possibly be, and setting a good example for others to follow.

Becoming Acquainted with the Leaders of our Past

Our historical perspectives are fading. And as they do, our understanding of those men and women who made a significant, enduring difference throughout our history is also fading.

Many of our greatest leaders are largely unknown. Great leaders are closely acquainted with those men and women who have gone before them, and seek to further understand them in any way they can—through their values, their mission in life, their personalities, and the challenges they overcame. Once we understand the difference they made, and the impact they’ve had, not only do we know who they are, they become people we’ll never forget because of the example they left behind.

I believe there is great value in becoming acquainted with those leaders through any means available. Because if we’re able to gain an understanding of the challenges they overcame, their personalities, and all they did during their lifetimes to make our world a little better place, that reflects well on all of us.

Addressing the Problem

By providing compelling experiences focused on all dimensions of leadership, our goal is to show people how they can better lead—through their own example, through their own stories, and through their own core values.

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