Growing up on a farm in rural South Dakota I found myself amazed at the value my dad put on baling twine. It seemed like he could fix just about anything with some baling twine.

Need to temporarily fix the cattle fence? Baling twine. Tailgate on the pickup broke? Baling twine. Tire fell off the combine… ok maybe not for that.

When I was young I thought baling twine was a great tool to have on the farm. What I discovered as I grew up was that the temporary fix that baling twine gave my dad often times wound up costing us more in the end.

During these years on the farm I can recall many discussions in our home between my mom and dad pertaining to the “baling twine effect.”

“Why don’t you just get a new one?” Mom would say.

“It’s just fine, I just need to fix this part and it will be good as new,” Dad would respond.

Truthfully, sometimes Dad was right, the piece of equipment would work fine with a little tinkering, and sometimes Mom was right as that little tinkering led to a new problem and then another and another ending up costing us time and money.

Over the years I have reflected on some of those discussions and “projects.” Some make me smile and some make me wonder what we were thinking?

The job of a leader is to solve problems before they become large noticeable ones that have a significant effect on people or an organization. Leaders must identify things early on that are not allowing peak performance and find solutions before they become major problems that prohibit achieving goals.

At times those solutions are simple, and other times they are larger and more noticeable.

Regardless of the solution, a leader must be attuned to their situation; knowing the desired outcome, assessing progress towards those desired outcomes and willing to make proactive adjustments to ensure the best results possible.

Where are you a leader? Home, work, church, volunteer organizations?

Wherever that is, go ahead and lead, understanding that leaders solve problems. Sometimes the problem can be solved with minor adjustments, but sometimes the solution is major action.

Don’t, however, fall into “baling twine effect” trap of using the easy or cheap solution just because it is the easy or cheap solution. Sometimes things really need to be addressed or fixed, not just jerry-rigged to make it another day.

Excellent leaders thoughtfully discern problems, seek wise counsel, look at possibilities and make decisions. Leaders solve problems, and today’s world needs great leaders.

– Wade McKittrick serves as the superintendent for the Wabasso Public School District