Improving Leadership Effectiveness with Steve Fredlund

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Steve Fredlund is a sought-after innovator engaged to solve the most complex problems. His insights have powered hundreds of breakthroughs in corporations, nonprofits and small businesses. He is the Founder and Lead Strategist for Steve Fredlund Solutions and Small Small Business as well as the creator of The Solving BOX ™. Currently, Steve is focused on improving leadership effectiveness, employee engagement and organizational expertise in problem-solving.

Steve knows the highs and lows of leadership. For the past 15 years, he has been on a quest to understand the true driving forces of authentic happiness. As a professional speaker, Steve’s insights are transforming the lives of leaders and employees across the country. He has spent his entire life in East Central Minnesota with his wife Tracy and their three, now-grown children. He loves podcasting, poker, disc golf and trying to stay a loyal Minnesota sports fan.

Podcast Highlights

Who is Steve Fredlund? 

Steve is an actuary by trade and spent multiple decades in the corporate world doing analytical work. About four years ago, Steve left the corporate world to go out on his own as an entrepreneur and mentor, helping small businesses through coaching and consulting.

Steve learned that he really enjoyed helping small businesses thrive and grow and that the corporate world wasn’t really for him. He started looking for ways to make those businesses more vibrant and help them along that path.

Part of his story is in discovering what makes him happier, rather than just doing a job. Coaching and consulting with small businesses is much more aligned with Steve’s mission in life.

What are some of the biggest issues you see with small businesses?

At the crux of a lot of small business problems is simply a lack of clarity. Everything stems from that.

Many business owners don’t even know why they started the business in the first. As they become more clear on exactly what they are trying to do, and what they want out of their business, a lot of the answers to the strategic questions come naturally.

Start by asking questions with an open mind and don’t settle for the first answer. You have to keep digging and asking why to get to the root motivation. Once you understand what you are really trying to achieve, what you need to do now becomes more obvious.

Clarity is difficult and there are no simple answers that apply to everyone. A lack of clarity is what causes chaos within an organization.

As the business owner, asking what you really want, and not what you think other people expect of you, can be challenging to come up with, but it’s crucial to your happiness and success.

Going into a career because your naturally good at it or because society thinks you should do something is a terrible reason to begin with. People can wake up after years in a great career at a great organization and find themselves deeply unhappy when they discover they are living someone else’s life.

If you’re not miserable, don’t go looking for it because you will eventually find it. Happiness is like your backbone. When you’re slightly out of alignment, it will eventually begin to make you uncomfortable, but that’s not always an indication that you need a big career change.

It’s probably a good idea to talk to someone you trust like a therapist to find the real reason you’re unhappy. Jumping into entrepreneurship may not be the best move. It may actually make more sense to give your career a chance to make a change or to address another area of your life.

The Leaders Role

As a leader, you want your team to advance the mission of the organization and to do that you need them to be active and engaged. A good leader needs to also be engaged in their team member’s happiness if they want them to perform at their best.

Knowing that your leadership team actually considers your happiness and preferences is extremely validating.

Good leaders should be seeing the signs of unhappiness in their team before the team member may be able to notice it themselves.

The businesses that aren’t looking at the Great Resignation lack the empathy they need to have clarity on what their team really needs. People today have more opportunities than ever and don’t need to work for a company if they don’t want to. As leaders, we need to recognize the need to create environments that foster success.

You have to be intentional about prioritizing people. Once you see the long-term impact, it becomes a no-brainer. Every leader has to balance the short-term and long-term actions.

When things aren’t aligned

It’s better to have a clarity based conversation with an employee and find out that things aren’t quite a fit than to wait for the situation to fall apart. Just like a Net Promoter score, employees will share their bad experiences with everyone will listen.

Will people be leaving as a champion of your organization, or as a person spreading negativity everywhere they go?

The Solving Box

The Solving Box came out of Steve’s natural knack for problem solving. He looked at his process for solving problems and laid it out as a framework called the Solving Box. If you could improve your organization’s problem solving process by just 1% or 2%, it has a huge impact on what you’re trying to achieve, and that’s what the Solving Box brings to the table.

It starts with looking at all the goals of the people involved and the universe of all the possible solutions for that particular problem. When you begin to combine those two things and iterate through them several times you end up with something very powerful.

This process leads to better solutions, finding new constraints, and identifying better goals.




Steve Fredlund on LinkedIn