Frame Your Leadership Challenge

Properly framing the Leadership Challenge is critical to your success. Here’s how to do it just right.

IMG 0072
Time 20-30 minutes
Participants Individual
Difficulty Medium
Materials Pens, post-its or notebook

Leadership challenges can be multifaceted and complex. They can relate to an organisational issue, something to do with the wider context, or simply something that an individual leader needs to focus on in order to unlock their potential.

How we frame a leadership challenge will affect how we choose to address it. The same goes for when you're trying to identify an area of leadership development.

A common pitfall when attempting to do this is going either too narrow or too broad. A narrowly scoped challenge won’t offer enough room to explore creative solutions. And a too broadly scoped challenge won’t give you a clear enough idea of where to start.

By going through the steps below you can ensure your challenge will help you deliver better social impact and refine it until it’s the challenge you’re excited to tackle.

Steps

1

Get some post-its and pens out. Think about the leadership challenge you are looking to address. This might be an organisational leadership challenge, something to do with your wider context or more of a personal development challenge.

To help you work through steps 2-6, you might want to take a look at the examples below.

2

Using post-its, start by taking a first stab at writing your leadership challenge. It should be short and easy to remember, a single sentence that conveys what you want to do. What is the problem you’re trying to solve?

3

Try to frame your problem statement as a design question – “How might we…”

4

State the impact and outcomes you’re trying to attain.

5

What are some possible solutions to your problem? Think broadly and creatively and write down some ideas!

6

What are some of the constraints you might face? Note them down.

7

Now that you’ve run your challenge through these filters, do it again. It may seem repetitive, but the right question is key to arriving at a good solution. Does your original problem statement need a tweak? Try it again.

8

Example 1 - Personal development challenge


What is the problem you’re trying to solve?

Ensuring that I balance delegation with tight oversight in my role as a line manager.

Try to frame it as a design question – “How might we…”

How might I effectively delegate to my team whilst keeping oversight?

State the ultimate impact and outcomes you’re trying to attain.

  • Free up my time to work on other projects
  • Empower my team
  • Effectively support the people I line manage

What are some possible solutions to your problem – think broadly and creatively!

  • Talk to employees about how the want to be managed
  • Working with team to clarify how to uphold a culture of collaboration, empowerment and accountability
  • Develop routine for reporting

What are some of the constraints you might face

  • Lack of time to implement
  • Working remotely
  • Balancing different priorities

Does your original problem statement need a tweak? Try it again

How might I effectively delegate and support my team whilst ensuring quality in delivery?


Example 2 - Organisational challenge

What is the problem you’re trying to solve?

Young people do not have enough help in getting and then keeping jobs and growing these jobs into sustainable careers.

Try to frame it as a design question – “How might we…”

How might we support NEET young people to have sustained employment and careers

State the ultimate impact and outcomes you’re trying to attain.

  • NEET young people who are financially independent, and have higher positive life outcomes
  • Stronger communities
  • Lower public costs – unemployment, NHS, justice system

What are some possible solutions to your problem – think broadly and creatively!

  • Provide a more holistic and intense solution than what is currently available in the community: core skills training, 1:1 coaching, and job placement opportunities
  • Develop relationships with employers who will provide job placements and real jobs for the young people at the end of the programme
  • Continue to support the young people after their employment to ensure they stay in jobs and build careers

What are some of the constraints you might face

  • The number and kinds of of NEET young people who need our programme
  • Sustainable funding for the programme
  • The number of job opportunities we can find

Does your original problem statement need a tweak? Try it again

How might we support disadvantaged NEET young people to have sustained employment and careers within the local community?

Facilitator notes

Perhaps you have a leadership challenge that concerns your whole team?

Doing this exercise as a team gives everyone a change to think through what the challenge is really about. By agreeing on how to frame it you can create a shared understanding and mutual starting point before diving into solutions.

Sources

This exercise is inspired by a tool from IDEO.org’s DesignKit called “Frame Your Design Challenge” and adapted by the Clore Social team to fit a social Leadership Context. IDEO.org’s DesignKit tool is used to help you properly frame the problem that you want to design a solution for. We’ve adapted it to help you frame the leadership challenge you have to help you develop solutions to overcome your leadership challenge.

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