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Transitions, Part 3: Solving Problems

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Push or Pull – Which Is the Best Way to Solve Problems?

Every day your team is bombarded with new problems it must solve, both big and small. Solving problems is an important transition (like processing information) that each member of your team approaches in a unique way.

As a team conducts ministry, it passes through four inescapable transitions – movements or changes that take the team from one “place” to another. In this part 3 of 5 in our Transition Series, we examine how God provides specific ways your team can thrive through the transition of solving problems.

  • 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. Just ask the church building committee that included Keith and Jennifer.

Two Approaches to Problem-Solving

woman and man working togetherKeith, a local real estate agent, was chairman of the congregation’s building committee – a crucial role because the church had outgrown its rental space in a local school and desperately needed to build its own facility. As an Aggressive problem-solver, Keith was often impatient and acted quickly, pushing a team to a solution. Those same traits meant he regularly got results.

Imagine the scene when Keith was joined by committee co-chair, Jennifer, to look at a 25-acre lot offered to the church prior to being placed on the market. Jennifer, a Reflective problem-solver, was a CPA with a methodical approach and vigilant attention to detail. As the duo viewed the property, Keith grew increasingly excited. The location, land contour, and price were ideal. The church would need to act quickly to secure a deal. Keith was ready to sign a contract before even consulting with the committee. But Jennifer was more cautious and pulled back. She wanted to study finance options before presenting the option to the committee.

Fortunately, both Keith and Jennifer used their unique problem-solving skills to work together for a solution.

The Turbulence of Push and Pull

These two approaches to problem solving can be described as “pushing” and “pulling.” Aggressive problem-solvers like Keith are eager to push through to achieve a solution. Their drive motivates others and can propel a team to move forward. Reflective problem-solvers like Jennifer 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 reflective Jennifers 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.

Push and Pull Balance Each Other

Neither Keith and Jennifer insisted on solving the problem their own way. Instead, they recognized that each had strengths that could contribute to a good solution for their church. Keith used his authoritative manner to persuade the seller to postpone listing the property. His push bought some extra time for Jennifer to check out details.  Meanwhile, Jennifer immersed herself in researching financing options and discovered a little-known source for funding. Her pullback ultimately saved the church thousands of dollars. The committee made an offer on the property which was immediately accepted.

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.

Growth PointEffective problem-solving requires both push and pull.ScriptureJust as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body. (Romans 12:4-5, NIV).

Prayer Points

  • Do you naturally approach problem-solving aggressively with energy and determination – or more reflectively with caution and vigilance?
  • Consider those on your team. Try to identify those who solves problems by pushing forward and those who pull back to make sure they understand the details.
  • If you are an Aggressive, think of a time when a Reflective’s approach was helpful to you. If you are a Reflective, think of a time when an Aggressive’s approach was helpful to you.

Read more in our Transitions series

Transitions, Part 1: Constructive or Destructive?
Transitions, Part 2: Processing Information
Transitions, Part 4: Managing Change
Transitions, Part 5: Facing Risk