Sometimes these “thinkages” come from my own head, and sometimes other people hit the nail so well that I can’t help but nod and press “forward”. This time it’s about being a collaborative leader.

So, without further ado, here’s a video from Marshall Goldsmith (renowned leadership coach/speaker/author) with some thoughts on Leaders as Facilitators.

It’s a great video about a CEO and his method for evaluating projects and problems and working with his team to develop solutions. It’s about being a collaborative leader. It goes into the idea that so often, we, as leaders, think we have to have the answer. He then goes on to discuss why that’s not always true.

There are a mix of things I see in this, but what I see foremost is a collaborative leader and vulnerable leader—two things I love in a leader, but you all knew that! This leader leans on his team to achieve greatness and I imagine they respect the heck out of him for asking their opinion versus him trying to solve every problem.

Give it a watch; it’s well worth it. It has made me think about the times when I might be stretching for an answer, when in fact I should be asking the team for answers. Remember, we each have 60,000 thoughts per day and if there’s a force multiplier, it’s asking groups or teams for help in solving a problem.

There’s something else in here that struck me, as it runs counter to a “Steve-ism.” After you’ve watched it, sneak back here and I’ll share some of my thoughts. Truth be told, I’m still thinking about it…Marshall is right, but there’s also a hint of hmm—or maybe it’s just my inability to grasp it fully yet.

In the video, Marshall talks about issues that occur when leaders want their team to show up with solutions, not problems. I have to say, I’m a really big fan of people showing up with solutions and not just problems. There’s a catch-22 stuck right in the middle here, though, and he nails it: people may hide problems versus bringing them to you if they don’t have a solution.

Maybe it’s truly this black and white. Often, we’ll have open discussions around challenges, but I do have a saying that goes something like “Please don’t sh*t on my desk.” As you know, this is my way of saying “Don’t leave your problems here.”

It’s a slippery slope. In thinking about it, there are times where problems changing hands makes perfect sense. There’s a trick to it, though—we are all problem-solvers. We want to help. In helping, do we take on too many problems when we should be mentoring our teams to be problem-solvers? Do we ask enough “What would you do” type questions?

We all have to draw the line somewhere when being asked for help and I imagine we’ll all be different—and that’s perfectly ok. I personally like to collaborate with each of you on solutions, but I do love it when you have some seeds planted already.

For the time being, as I ponder this some more, I’ll amend my statement to read “Please don’t leave sh*t on my desk unless we agree my desk is the best place for it.”

Want to learn more about lessons on being a collaborative leader? Check out Steve Krull’s LinkedIn page, where he has published a variety of articles on the subject.


Also published on Medium.