Leaders need more than just problem-solving skills, they need to work with problems where emotions are involved and recognize how their emotions impact their decisiveness. Leaders with strong problem solving abilities tackle problems head on without being distracted by their emotions. If this is a strength, you likely approach problem solving with logic and gather information before drawing a conclusion. These leaders tend to stick with a problem until a solution is reached and they rarely allow their emotions to inhibit their decisions. With that said, they should be careful to not dismiss emotions altogether when addressing a problem.

Here are a couple of suggestions for reinforcing and strengthening your problem-solving abilities as defined by the principles of emotional intelligence.  If you are quick to resolve problems with little regard for the emotions involved — yours and/or others (High Problem Solving), you could be implementing solutions without fully surveying the situation. To ensure that you are taking enough information into consideration try this:

  • Explain your interpretation of a problem to at least two people, one who is connected closely to the problem and the other who is a neutral third party.
  • Do not ask for solutions; simply present your summary of the situation and allow them to ask clarifying questions if needed.
  • If there is a question that you are unable to answer, that is a sign that you need greater understanding of the problem before you begin to solve it.

Here is another approach. The next time your emotions leave you stuck while trying to solve a problem (Low Problem Solving), break the situation down into smaller chunks to simplify the problem and make it easier to move forward. Then, categorize the information and the possibilities you are considering to limit the options. Keep in mind that balance is important, too much information paralyzes you, while too little leaves you uninformed. Finally, if the nature of your decision is stressful, your mental and emotional resources will be strained, so you may want to limit yourself to three options.