A leader looks past the symptoms to the root causes of the disease. A leader looks past the presenting problem to find the source of the problem. Treating the symptoms doesn’t cure the disease. Eliminating the presenting problem doesn’t address the source of the problem. Treating only the symptoms may actually allow the disease to worsen.
In the heat of the moment, it’s easy to look at the symptoms as the problem. It is tempting to focus on eliminating the symptoms, believing that things will be better when the symptoms disappear. Dealing with the symptoms seems easier and more immediate.
By dealing only with the symptoms, you don’t have to face the source of your problem. You don’t have to face the harsh reality of what is required. You don’t have to have the difficult conversations. You don’t have to face your constraints. You don’t have to face your limitations, including your personal limitations as a leader.
Leaders look past the symptoms to find the root cause of their challenges. They know that unless the root cause is addressed, treating the symptoms is only a band-aid and that the symptoms will reappear, often at the most inopportune time. Leaders force the conversations, face their constraints, and breakthrough their limitations.
Facing the source of problems instead of the symptoms is how leaders propel the organizations they lead forward to greater results. It’s also how leaders help the people they serve to grow.