Managing the Problem-Solver

Problem-solvers are awesome to have around, aren’t they? They fix problems, whether relational, social, financial, structural, infrastructural or procedural. Problem fixing is an important and valuable skill and many people are rewarded at work for this ability.

Problem-solvers may also be really good at prospectively identifying problems and their solutions. These folks are incredible to have on project planning teams as they help to ensure the success of the project.

Clifton StrengthsFinders call this strength Restorative. A useful strength, for sure. Like all strengths, Restorative can also create difficulties when not used wisely.

Folks with Restorative strength may struggle with staying positive while identifying problems.   If overly focused on problems while ignoring the opportunities, the problem-solver may be perceived as negative or a nay-sayer. A successful and ambitious project benefits from both dreamers and problem-solvers; one without the other becomes either completely unrealistic or unable to move forward. Problem-solvers should aim to allow the group to maintain their energy towards working towards the shared vision but work to mitigate the obstacles that can submarine an otherwise good project.

That problem-solving talent can also backfire when aimed at people. Restorative folk often will focus on what someone is doing wrong or their personal flaws rather than what they are doing right or their strengths. If the problem-solver has poor self-awareness, then that criticism could have impair the development or maintenance of trust and intimacy in relationships.

Balancing positivity and problem spotting in projects and others can be difficult. What’s even more difficult is excessive problem spotting in oneself. That inward critique may be endless and relentless and make the outward criticism seem tame in comparison.

The good news about this strength is that, though it’s easy to fall into the down-side of the strength, the strength can also be used to find a solution. I mean, who better to solve the problem than someone with the Restorative strength? Apply said-talent to said-poor balance issues. Ask yourself, how can I identify and solve problems while being supportive, affirming and positive? How can I apply that remedy to myself? What is the right balance of affirming, celebrating, dreaming versus fixing and repairing? How do I integrate this into my focus, perspective and actions each day? What impact do I have when I over-focus on fixing? What other strengths can I use to offset my Restorative tendency that is more positive and generative?

We don’t have to overly rely on a couple of strengths. We can make full use of the things that we do naturally. Empathy, positivity, harmony, organizing, bringing out the best in others or a project, relationship-building, and creativity strengths all potentially could be used to find the optimum balance for this valuable but often challenging strength.

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