This is an excellent quintessential leadership post by Dan Rockwell. Alarmists tell everybody all the time all the things that could, that might, that possibly go wrong and they expect everybody, including those of us in leadership positions, to address and focus on these potential problems (which, by the way, seldom materialize at all, or in the rare cases, they do, not at all the way the alarmists envisioned them) instead of the real problems, issues, and projects at hand.

My way of addressing this alarmist syndrome on my teams is to tell them at the outset not to bring a problem – real or potential – to me without bringing me a solution as well. And “Do you have a solution?” was always the question I asked as soon as I heard either “We have a problem…” or “We might have a problem…” If the answer I got was “No,” then I reminded the person that they had a part in the process of solving real or potential problems and they hadn’t done their part, so we wouldn’t discuss until they had.

Potential problems, interestingly, almost never came back to me. Real problems did, but so did some really innovative solutions, which was win-win for everyone.

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