When life is intense, questions are complex, and there are no easy answers, many leaders will default to easy decisions that worked in the past.  Answers that feel safe and do not require us to move beyond the bounds of the tried-and-true.  This approach to decision-making seems rational, straightforward, and an approach where no one would blame you for making that decision.

The complexity quotient, new challenges, and unprecedented changes are now the norm.  The future promises to provide leaders with many opportunities to strengthen their problem-solving and decision-making skills.  As much as a “return to normal” would be welcomed, it is not a reality.  As leaders, we must increasingly incorporate components of seemingly competing and opposing ideas.  Ideas and concepts that traditionally are at odds with each other and have people debating “either/or” solutions.  This traditional approach is ineffective and divisive which prevents our teams and organizations from accomplishing their mission and goals.

Instead, consider using a “Both/And” approach which draws on the best in each potential solution, puts those elements together in new ways, and encourages the development of solutions that were either thought impossible or never considered.  This approach requires that leaders not rush to judgment, avoid relying on only the tried-and-true approaches, explore new options for effective components, and become comfortable with not having a guaranteed outcome.

“Both/And” is about exploration, listening, looking for new variables, and considering that we may not have the best solution yet.

For example, in hiring new employees, you may come up with your top two candidates and feel that neither candidate meets all your needs.  Many leaders will look at the pros and cons to determine which one to hire.

However, if you are using the “both/and” approach you would look at the position itself, and ask:  What areas of responsibility could be moved to another position?  Is the position description focused on the core responsibilities or on some non-essentials?  These all may lead to different solutions and to better evaluate which candidate you should hire.

Further, a leader might want to consider if both candidates are ideal in different ways, should we hire both?  In a tight labor market and high growth potential, is the answer that we need both candidates to succeed?

Switch your thinking from “Either/Or” to “Both/And” to observe the tremendous impact it will make on your organization and team.  Success begins with exploring new ideas, paths, and solutions!