Problems are a lot like icebergs... The real issues tend to be hidden below the surface.
Over the years of working with thousands of leaders (and I would include myself in this count!), most see a problem and look for the quick, painless way out. We don’t want to dig deeper to explore and identify the core problem. To illustrate my point, let's take a look at some examples of potential icebergs.
Potential Iceberg: Someone quits.
Most bosses accept that a person resigned because they found a better job. There is no doubt that is true and below the surface, why were they looking to begin with? If I am unhappy, a new job would definitely be an obvious solution.
In my experience, people leave because they are unhappy and want something else. Most people don’t like change so must be pushed to make a change. Odds are something drove them to it and you need to find out why.
Potential Iceberg: Someone needs to go.
You keep feeling disappointed and still hope they will "get there." The problem isn’t with what you are seeing, it is with what you are not seeing. We can tell the person can’t do the job and we start thinking about how to modify it or how to promote them to some other place in the company. Worse yet, we just do their job for them. What is below the surface? The problems we see are numerous... and yet the real problem is that we don’t have the guts to just make the cut.
Leadership is serious business. It requires a balance of compassion and patience aligned with honesty and urgency. The single biggest job of the leader is to see the icebergs and steer your team around them with plenty of time and space to spare.