The Skill In High Demand

Do you have what employers want?

Problem-solving skills are considered a highly valuable soft skill for arguably almost any job role. After all, who wants an employee who can’t fix problems as they arise?

Competent problem-solving skills are relevant and necessary, especially for those in—or wanting to move into—leadership roles.

This year LinkedIn revealed the top four soft-skills most in demand. What topped the chart? Leadership. And as former corporate executive Glenn Llopis puts it:

“Problem-solving is the essence of what leaders exist to do.” - Glenn Llopis

Whether you are in the high ranks or working your way up, problem-solving requires you to be both analytical and creative.

Let’s have a look at some well-known approaches and some tips on how to get the most out of them.

Trial and Error

This method has a narrower scope of application than others, as it works best when there are fewer factors involved and scenarios are limited. However, when used appropriately and with educated attempts, it can do the trick.

Tip: If you’re trying to find “the best fit” solution for a problem this way, keep track of what has worked and what hasn’t. The last thing you want to do is retry a failed approach and waste both time and money. Use a spreadsheet, logbook, or even your phone and stay organised!

Break It Down

A whopper-of-a-problem can intimidate anyone. As with most things in life, it can help to take things one step at a time. By breaking a larger problem into sub-problems, you can work your way closer to the desired goal.

Tip: Fishbone diagrams can be simple and effective tools to help you do just that. These diagrams map out possible causes of your problem in an effective and easy-to-follow branched form.

Work Backwards

Sometimes it can help to look ahead to where you want to be. What does your end goal look like? What successes have occurred to get you there?

Now that you have a clear view of contributing factors to success, you can plan how to achieve these steps.

Tip: Play devil’s advocate. Continuously ask constructive questions and try to foresee problems during your planning. This will help with your success rate!

As with most things, practice makes perfect. The more you experience problem-solving and apply critical-thinking skills, the more effective you will be at it. And that will set you up for success in any leadership role.