ProblemsSolving problems is what great leaders do best.

They understand the importance of minimizing the occurrence of problems, which in turn means confronting problems head-on before they run out of options.

“A leader must never view a problem as a distraction,” says business strategist Glenn Llopis, “but rather as a strategic enabler for continuous improvement and opportunities previously unseen.”

In an article for Forbes, Llopis outlines “the four most effective ways to solve problems.”

Solving Problems: Maintain Transparent Communications

Sometimes, Llopis notes, people involved in a problem prefer not to express themselves, “fearing they may threaten their job and/or expose their own or someone else’s wrong-doing.” But to effectively solve problems, everyone involved must feel comfortable expressing their candid opinions.

Transparent communications are only possible when a leader encourages open dialogue and his or her followers “feel that they are in a safe environment to share why they believe the problem happened, as well as specific solutions.”

Don’t assume people are comfortable sharing what they think, Llopis says. A leader must “challenge the team until accountability can be fairly enforced and a solution can be reached.” Only after all voices have been heard can the leader and her team forge the path “toward a viable and sustainable solution.”

Get Rid of Silos

Many workplace problems never get resolved because they originate in organizational silos. “Unnecessary silos invite hidden agendas, rather than welcome efficient cross-functional collaboration and problem-solving,” Llopis says.

Strive instead for a “boundary-less organization” where the leader can more effectively engage employees and promote open communications. Thus, problem-solving becomes “less about corporate politicking and more about finding resolutions and making the organization stronger.”

Work With Open-Minded People

For Llopis, working with closed-minded people means “effective problem-solving becomes a long and winding road of misery.” These are the types of people who “slow the process down while trying to make themselves look more important.”

A positive environment focuses on “lifters and high-potential leaders” who exemplify the value of open-mindedness. These individuals “see beyond the obvious details before them and view risk as their best friend.” They’re not afraid to tackle problems head-on and continue driving growth and innovation.

Develop a Solid Strategy

“Without strategy, change is merely substitution, not evolution,” Llopis contends.

Solving problems requires a solid foundational strategy. Otherwise, leaders get caught up attempting to “dissect a problem rather than identify the strategy for change that lies within the problem itself.”

Effective leaders:

  • Know how to “gather the right people, resources, budget and knowledge from past experiences.”
  • Inspire people “by making the problem-solving process highly collaborative.”
  • Connect the dots “and map out a realistic plan of action in advance.”

“Avoid guessing,” Llopis says. Step back and assess the situation, looking for those opportunities each problem represents. Understand that “each problem has its own nuances that may require a distinct strategy toward a viable resolution.”

Problem-solving is “the greatest enabler for growth and opportunity.” That's true even—or especially—when you're faced with difficult business decisions.