Problem-solving skills I learned from Condoleezza Rice

Leadership lessons from Condoleezza RiceOne of the most important strategies I follow to grow my business is learning from others–whether it’s what to do or what not to do. Learning from others has become much easier since the development of the internet and the onset of information sharing.  Recently, I was given the opportunity to learn from one of the most influential women in the world, Condoleezza Rice.  She is currently a professor of Political Economy in the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University, but we know her as the 66th Secretary of State of the United States. At this year’s Chick-Fil-A leadercast, Rice shared some of her strategies for problem-solving, dealing with difficult situations and bringing your team together.  I learned a great deal and hope you find them helpful.

1.  What’s the one thing I can do in this situation to change the direction?  We can apply this logic to any given situation and begin by evaluating our strengths and resources to find how we can individually contribute to the resolution.

2.  Be right with yourself.  We all know the golden rule of doing unto others, but it’s important to do unto ourselves as well.  Treat yourself with respect and encouragement.  Support your goals and stand firm in your beliefs and morals.

3.  Under those most difficult circumstances, try to be an optimist. You can quickly bring down a group by pointing out what is wrong in a situation. Optimism is contagious too, and can help change the outcome of a situation and strengthen the team.

4. Motivate people toward a common goal. Rice advises us to reflect on a success to get the motivation started.  Paint a picture of a tougher situation where others overcame and use this example to build momentum.  Help people see that, how out of difficult situations before, people have overcome.

5. Create balance in your life.  Take care of yourself during difficult times and take time off.  No one can go 24/7 for long periods and remain productive.  We aren’t built that way.

6.  Take time to contemplate the situation. Leaders have a bias for action but it is extremely important to take time to contemplate and evaluate the situation.  The situation may seem wholly improbable, but you can do it. (optimism).

Rice left us with this thought… ‘Resolution involves recognizing opportunity and to be open to the possibility that life might take you on wonderful journeys.’ (More wonderful optimism!)