Problem Centred Leadership

A to Z of
Creativity Techniques
Preliminary Questions
Problem Inventory Analysis - PIA

The Problem Centred Leadership (PCL) technique identifies key requirements for someone facilitating a problem-solving group, its suitability is dependent upon the leaders sensitivity to group process - these behaviours cannot be applied mechanically. Developed by Miner (1979) and described by VanGundy (1981; 1988) from the original ideas of Maier (1963) the technique outlines a particular scheme of stages, although it could be adapted to fit other stage schemes, it is summarised briefly below:


Suggested Leader Behaviour

1.Presentation of the Problem and relevant Information

Problem-Centred Leadership (PCL)

  • Situation-, not people-, related
  • Avoid suggesting solutions
  • Incorporate mutual interests
  • Include only one specific objective

Keep it brief:

  • Present only essential clarifying information
  • Separate facts from interpretation
  • 5 minutes at a maximum
2.Initial discussion of the situation

Give assurance to group members:

  • Be realistic
  • Tell members that they do not have to accept any change

Allow expressions of feeling to be released in harmless channels:

  • Look for guarded expressions of resentment
  • Leave long pauses to encourage expressions of feeling
  • Accept expressions of feeling
  • Understand, but dont evaluate, thoughts and feelings
  • Involve all group members in discussion
3.Continued Discussion

Minimal leader participation:

  • Perhaps provide occasional summaries
  • Perhaps ask questions that raise still-unexplored issues
4. Solution Generation and Decision making

Stimulate the generation of solutions:

  • Prevent premature closure
  • Separate ideas generation from evaluation
  • Deal with agreement and disagreement
  • Summarize discussion periodically

Assist in evaluating and selecting solutions:

  • Examine pros and cons of each suggestion
  • Explore supporting evidence
  • Use stalemates constructively
  • Explore solutions for knock-on problems
  • Create short-list by voting and by combining choices

Deal with disagreement by methods such as:

  • Combining disputed options
  • Analysing and trying to improve each separately
  • Treating failure to agree as a separate problem
5. Determination of Decision acceptance

Final leader summary:

  • Provide a careful, detailed, summary of the final decision
  • Ask group to check summary and modify as required