How Teams Solve Problems

When you are faced with a problem, do you step in and work to solve it right away – boldly and directly? Or maybe you step back cautiously and calculate the costs of your options before you make a decision. Every day your team is bombarded with new problems it must solve, both big and small. Each member of the team approaches problem solving in a unique way.

  • Some team members will approach solving problems aggressively, charging forward with energy and determination.
  • Some will approach solving problems reflectively, tending to be cautious and conservative. They prefer to make decisions deliberately after carefully weighing the facts.

Both aggressive problem-solvers and reflective problem-solvers bring strengths to your team.

An illustration of this concept is the different roles the members of a baseball team have to get an out. When the baseball is hit, the infielders react quickly and move toward the ball while the first reaction of the outfielders is to step back to determine the trajectory of the ball. Obviously it takes both infielders and outfielders to successfully make an out.

Rodney Cox, president of Ministry Insights describes these two approaches to problem solving as “pushing” and “pulling.” Aggressive problem-solvers are eager to push through to achieve a solution. Their drive motivates others and can propel a team to move forward. Reflective problem-solvers may insist on studying the problem thoroughly before even thinking about potential solutions, pulling back to take time to consider all options.

Yet these same strengths can spell turbulence when not kept in balance. If Aggressives are not careful, their strengths can lead them to clash with other Aggressives who are equally forceful – or intimidate Reflectives and lose out on their valuable input. Conversely, a team’s forward motion can grind to a halt as the Reflectives of the world pull back. But when team members understand the need to both push and pull – and even find value in the opposite approach – the team can become stronger. When it comes to solving problems, both Aggressives and Reflectives are valuable. Pushing and pulling don’t need to compete with one another. Instead, they can balance one another – and complete your team.

Where would our teams be without those who look at an issue and bravely step forward with determination and drive to address it? We need Aggressives who say, “Let’s fix this now!” But teams need Reflectives in the wings – those who are careful, agreeable, and a bit more thoughtful. They take “one step at a time” to avoid extra unnecessary glitches when solving a problem. Drive and caution; determination and care – together, these strengths solve problems in a balanced way.

The Leading From Your Strengths profile is a great tool to measure the problem solving strengths of you and your team. This information is essential  to understanding yourself, valuing the members of your team, and building and effective ministry team. For additional articles visit

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