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Constructive Ways to Solve Problems

Whilst solving problems is the bread and butter of school leadership some of our behaviours help, and some hinder us. It is helpful to build the behaviours that are constructive and helpful in resolving problems and manage or reduce our defensive behaviours.

The following behaviours help us to solve problems in Constructive ways.

  • Keeping facts and assumptions separate.
  • Checking for alignment and establish common understanding.
  • Clearly establishing the objective or outcome we are looking for.
  • Identify alternative strategies and discuss their merits.
  • Identify potential adverse consequences and their severity.

We should avoid, limit or manage defensive behaviours that hamper our ability to solve problems and keep people ‘on board. Our defensive behaviours often stem from our need for safety and security because we are feeling under threat.

Our defensive behaviours can be aggressive.

  • Jumping straight into actions.
  • Getting too bogged down and overwhelmed by data.
  • Treating actions as objectives rather than as strategies.
  • Making decisions about actions before identifying the objective.
  • Evaluating alternatives without exploring and understanding their implications.

Some unhelpful behaviours are passive defensive.

  • Allowing opinions to be shared as facts.
  • Not challenging assumptions
  • Talking about potential objectives but not agreeing on them.
  • Assuming the strategy is viable without deeper consideration.
  • Going with the first idea or the idea of authority figures.
  • Failing to acknowledge the limitations of our strategy.

The circumplex from Human Synergistics describes 12 thinking styles and associated behaviours. The styles are identified as Constructive, Passive Defensive and Aggressive Defensive. I find it a really useful way to reflect on my thinking and behaviour.

Source Human Synergistics Australia