No, I don't profess to have a magic answer to this problem. However, I've just finished reading a book with a view on this. It's "Leadership Made Simple," by Ed Oakley and Doug Krug and it has some practical insights to help deal with some challenging topics for leaders.
They present a well-organized, concise "Framework for Leadership" (apparently they've trademarked this term), which provides techniques, guidance, and examples to help improve team performance. This book is a quick, engaging read and could be very valuable, particularly if you have team dynamics issues you're dealing with. I also feel this book could be a good add to the library of a new manager / aspiring leader.
This book provides a nice blend of philosophical guidance, coupled with some specific techniques for working through organizational alignment / organizational change management quandaries.
There are some great examples in the book that underscore what I like to think of as "management curiosity" - seeking to understand and learn from each situation the team works through. You'll find some excellent things for your toolbox in the section on Effective Questions, and a discussion of the relationship between good questions and the quality of the answers you receive.
Along the same lines, I found the "Questions To Think About" topics at the end of the major sessions particularly insightful, and the anecdotes in this book were very well constructed.
A difference of opinion
In fact, one of these anecdotes brought out an issue where my opinion differs a bit from the authors'. In the book, there is a discussion about the value of "Focusing Forward" to drive success in the future.
"Joy does not occur when we focus on what's not working - on our mistakes and failures. Instead, we facilitate joy in the workplace when we focus forward - on what is working, the successes we have already achieved."
OK, so I don't totally disagree with this notion, but I feel you lose a lot of learning if you ignore your mistakes and failures. It's like a mentor of mine once pointed out to me:
A lot of sports teams find huge value in reviewing tapes of past games to identify areas where they made mistakes, and trying to consciously understand why they made those mistakes in the past.
If you approach your mistakes and failures with a spirit of learning and growth, you'll get a lot more out of life than if you just ignore them.
In any case, I enjoyed this book and will hang on to it and refer back to it for some good tools.
Other titles to consider
- If you're in the market for a more "how to" guide, I recommend you also pick up a copy of Lisa Haneberg's "High Impact Middle Management."
- Another excellent book on achieving organizational alignment is "Execution," by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan.
- Finally, if you want to get into the zen of leadership, pick up my favorite "why to" book, "Managing with Aloha," by Rosa Say.