Activist & Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver is credited with first saying “You’re either part of the solution or you’re part of the problem.” Today, those words are often heard in association with employees and their roles within a company. This mindset suggests that there are only two sides to this equation, which some might argue against. But in reality, even remaining silent about something that your organization is confronted with places you on the problem side.
So, how do you know which side you’re on — the solution side or problem side? Problem-focused people give their attention to what’s wrong and who is to blame. They complain, criticize and pine away for the good old days. Or they throw their hands up in the air and walk away, believing the smart thing to do is distance themselves, thereby remaining neutral. Often times, people take the passive, neutral stance because they feel unempowered, irrelevant or unwilling to risk speaking up. In that case, it’s the organization’s leadership that needs to assess its culture and approach to encouraging engagement from all levels.
If you want to be seen as a solution-focused person who brings value to your company no matter where you are in the hierarchy, when you see a problem, embrace the opportunity to solve it. Issues and crisis are evidence of the need for change and you can be a change agent.
As Henry Ford, another iconic visionary, once said, “Don’t find fault, find a remedy.” Turn your attention to figuring out the fix and ways to bring your solution to life. Seek out trusted advisors who can help you better understand all the contributing factors or those who can help you think through and test your ideas. Stay positive and benefit-focused when presenting your remedy to decision-makers, and explain the role you can you play in implementation.