How Leaders Can Solve Big Problems with Small Solutions

October 4, 2022

elephant in the office

Overview: Intelligent leaders use emotional intelligence, self-awareness, and a solid reservoir of positive leadership references to deconstruct problems, turning big ones into manageable, bite-sized challenges. Leadership coaching can give leaders a blueprint for committing to solving a problem and taking action.

Big problems are daunting and intimidating, especially for small organizations. They’ll often cause those of us less inclined to answer challenges to avoid them, yet big problems often have small solutions. If we manage to muster the courage to take them on one step at a time, we may find that as we eliminate small problems, big ones become bitesize as well.

Big problems tend to have large emotional clout. We perceive them as big, so they are difficult to solve, right? The problem is one of perception. When we see something as overwhelming, we trigger our fight or flight response and allow primal instincts to derail our thinking.

Leadership Coaching and the Power of Small Solutions

Leadership coaching understands the power of small solutions. The coaching process takes advantage of this mysterious power that allows humans to tackle the most intimidating problems, break them down, and eliminate them.

When leaders hire executive coaches, they expect them to change things for the better and make organizations more successful. That sounds like the definition of a journey of a thousand miles.

Every such journey begins with a single step, however. Experienced executive coaches know how to help clients take that step, then one more and one more.

The Role of Emotional Intelligence in Finding Small Solutions

Problems we perceive as daunting or unmanageable elicit emotional overwhelm. When we are overwhelmed, we experience waves of uncontrollable and often conflicting emotions that blind our judgment and deprive us of the ability to think rationally. As our minds race, our emotions amplify problems, making them seem more daunting.

Emotional intelligence and self-awareness are two intelligent leadership abilities that allow leaders to recognize, control, and reroute emotions. Coupled with a solid reservoir of positive references, these abilities can help leaders break down seemingly big problems into small chunks and handle them one at a time.

An emotionally intelligent leader recognizes the signs of emotional overwhelm and the emotions that trigger such a state. These leaders can rein in their emotions and focus on finding practical solutions to problems.

How Can Leaders Apply Small Solutions to Big Problems?

It’s seldom effective to address a problem in its entirety. Lifestyle coaches may tell clients they shouldn’t aim to overturn their lives from one day to another. They advise them to take small a step first, then another and so on.

The first step is to find something about the problem you think you can solve. Use your reservoir of real or vicarious positive leadership references to draw inspiration and motivation.

Deciding to Take Action

The decision to do something specific about the problem is the first step toward resolution. This decision is a mental marker and the beginning of the end of what used to be an unsolvable problem.

Zeroing in on Solutions

Identifying a small aspect of the problem one can address is like making a crack in a nutshell. Executive coaching professionals advise their clients to write down the solutions and actions they want to take in this regard. The act of writing with a pen on paper focuses the mind, eliminates emotional distractions, and lends the planned solutions a material form.

Creating a Schedule

Ambiguity is the enemy of action. Specificity is its friend. By drawing up a schedule for the solution, leaders create specificity around it.


Once you get the ball rolling, you’re halfway there.

When they get the ball rolling, leaders find they gather momentum, focus, and motivation.

Measuring Progress and Course Correcting

Knowing where their efforts take them in solving problems allows leaders to adjust their approaches. Seeing how well they’re navigating a seemingly insurmountable obstacle can also lend them additional motivation.

Most of our problems are only as big as we make them. Once we learn how to dissect and deconstruct them, they lose the emotional grips they have on us, and we can overcome them.

Contact us to learn more about how you can join the IL Movement as a coach or how you can benefit from partnering with us to bring IL Solutions to you and your organization.

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