Are you the problem?


I’m faced with a question that I don’t really think I want to answer.

The question?

Are you the problem?

I’m a little too quick to see the problems on my team.  I want to fix them. But what if the real problem isn’t some process or system failure on my team?

What if the problem is me?

Sometimes I see team members show up late, and I want to reprimand them for coming in late.

Maybe instead I should ask WHY they were late – and actually care about their response, offer to pray for them if needed, and invest in their life.

Sometimes I see a child misbehaving and I want to walk in the class, take the child to the side, and chat with them about their behavior.

Maybe instead I should find out WHY the child is misbehaving – has he been here all day?  Did his parents recently split up? Has he been sick lately?


I am challenging myself to stop reacting to the problems and start caring for the people.


I recently read a blog post entitled “Three Ways to Coach the Person and not the Problem“.

Here are some takeaways and thoughts that I had:


People have insights, problems don’t.

If I am a leader who truly cares about growing and teaching the people that I lead, then I have to be coaching them, not swooping in to fix the problem.  Do you find it more effective to have someone tell you to fix an issue, or when someone asks for your input on fixing an issue?


Jumping in and solving the issue doesn’t allow for growth.

Again, how am I coaching when I simply swoop in and fix an issue….that will keep recurring, because I am simply creating a dependence on myself .  Instead, I need to put the issue back in the hands of the team.


Ask questions that have “you” in them.

Personalizing a question focuses on the person and not the problem.  Questions cause people to think and reflect.  Some examples:

What are you trying to accomplish?

What have you tried so far?

What would you need to do that?

What are the next steps you can take to move forward?


Spend time on non-agenda talk.

In short – make sure every conversation you have with your team doesn’t revolve around processes and policies.  Connect with them on a personal level.  Ask about their family, their race over the weekend, their trip. Show that you care about them as a person.


Far too often I jump into addressing the problems instead of coaching my team.  I will become a better leader when I stop reacting to the problems and start caring for the people.



6 thoughts on “Are you the problem?”

  1. Dave Lewis says:

    Another helpful question: What can I do to help you ________ (solve this problem, deal with this situation, get things back on track, etc.)?

    1. Yes! Great question to ask!

  2. Traci@tracesoffaith says:

    This begs a slower response I feel like. If we’d take a few moments before we respond, we could put some of this helpful advice into action. I especially liked the part about allowing for growth.

    1. Eek…slower responses. I’m definitely not very good at those!

  3. Sondi Warner says:

    This is effective leadership training. I applaud you for pausing to self-search and discover better ways to help your team make progress. A strong leader! A strong team! Congratulations, and thank you for sharing.

    1. Thank YOU Sondi! My constant goal is to stretch and grow in order to help others stretch and grow, too!

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