Dr. Jeff Soper is a seasoned executive, consultant, author, and coach who is a recognized expert in the fields of leadership development, performance improvement, and creativity and innovation. He expresses Problem-Solving leadership in different terms than most of us do.
Related Podcast and Transcription: Getting to the Leadership Table
Joe: Even in a Lean way when we look at the scientific method or PDCA is it different when you’re attaching the word leadership to it?
Jeff: Yeah, I believe so. I’ll tell you here is the difference. This is an evolutionary step. This is not a revolutionary step. Nothing I’m suggesting in problem-solving leadership refutes anything that went before. Before, the majority of the work and the majority of the focus were first on the individual, the “leader”, him or herself. What are the skills that you need? Then they came up with problems such as charisma. How do you teach charisma and those types of things?
Then the next evolution in leadership thinking went to the followers. What do the followers need? What are they ready for? There are lots of workouts on that. I’m sure you know many of them. Situational leadership was one of them. There are several others. What was missing in thousands of articles and books that were written, giving examples of what works in one instance but they weren’t generalizable with context.
What problem-solving leadership does, it adds the context of the work from the perspective of the nature of the complexity of the work along with the followers and the leadership.
Joe: Problem solving leadership evolved out of the CLICK Process or are those two completely different processes?
Jeff: It’s a chicken and egg question. When I was at Penn State, when Jack [Matts] and I created the Engineering Leadership Developing Minor there, the first of its kind in the world, Jack is a radical who is very, very focused on creativity and innovation. I am as he used to call me; a blue suit suck up that’s focused on change and leadership. Well, somehow we got our peanut butter, and chocolate mixed up together and we put those components together, and we discovered that there is a process for creativity and innovation. That is what the CLICK Model is all about.
Essentially, creativity leads to innovation. Innovation leads to change. Change leads to knowledge. And knowledge is the basis for creativity. The problem is that is not a natural cycle. It doesn’t flourish in and of itself. You need to have the environment for that cycle to operate, and that’s where the leadership component came in, and that’s where we were able to make things click. That’s how it got its name.
So, the CLICK Model is all about creativity, and I believe creativity is the foundation for all progress, all innovation in organizations. I know, as an academically qualified person when I say all it makes it suspect but believe all is dependent on creativity and innovation. But, leadership has to exist in order to create that, and that’s again, leadership at all levels, not just the C-Suite.
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