4 Ways To Address Causes Instead of Chasing Symptoms

Posted by Jenni Catron on May 17, 2021 11:21:00 PM

Symptoms get our attention.

Watery eyes and compulsive sneezing alert us to allergy season.

An upset stomach and high fever may be indicative of the flu.

We know symptoms indicate that there is something bigger going on inside of us. There's an underlying cause for what we're experiencing. If we’re smart, we proactively treat the real problem. Rather than simply masking the symptoms, we address the cause and seek to heal both.

Unfortunately, every day in our organizations and on our teams, we can be guilty of chasing symptoms rather than addressing the root issues beneath them.

  • We are frustrated with volunteer turnover but aren’t aware that our training for them is defunct.
  • We don’t understand people’s lack of engagement but fail to recognize how complex and confusing our communication is.
  • We grow irritated with the consistent underperformance of our staff but don’t provide regular feedback and accountability.
Why do we give symptoms our attention when we should be treating causes?
  • Symptoms are distracting. They nag, steal our focus, and are louder than the other voices we are attempting to listen to.
  • Symptoms feel urgent. When things pop up suddenly, they can convince us that we need to deal with them quickly.
  • Symptoms hurt now. When we feel a pain point, we want to eliminate it immediately. 

It’s easy to get side-tracked by symptoms because they are distracting, urgent, and painful.  But when we ignore the real underlying problems, we keep ourselves and our teams trapped in the same frustrating cycles.

As a leader, you must address the problems lurking in your organization. The real question is, how? Here are 4 ways you can address causes instead of chasing symptoms:

  1. Fight for focus. 
    Sometimes, finding focus is as simple as taking a deep breath and making a list of what needs your attention. Other times, you may need to involve other voices or a change of venue to broaden your perspective. Either way, though it may not feel true, YOU get to determine what you focus on.

  2. Stay curious. 
    The first thing a doctor does when you visit him with a complaint is to ask a slew of questions to unearth what the symptoms are indicating. Ask. Ask again. Ask why. Ask a different way. Ask people who have a different perspective and place in the organization than you do. And listen carefully to the answers you receive.

  3. Clarify priorities. 
    As you unearth the causes of the issues your team is facing, go back to your values to help you determine what matters most. This will help you prioritize what to do first.

  4. Be patient. 
    Treating an illness can take time. Likewise, uprooting a deeper issue that is causing strife in your organization can be slow work. As the leader, you set the pace and the posture, so stay patient with the process of pursuing health.

What symptoms are you currently chasing?  Challenge yourself to look deeper to identify the real problems. I assure you, in time, this discovery process, coupled with attending to the issues you uncover, will yield the health you’re hoping for.

Keep leading well!

Jenni Catron and The 4Sight Group


Free Workbook for An Extraordinary Team Culture

Evaluating our team culture is an important aspect of pursuing the health we hope to develop within our teams.

At 4Sight, we want to help you develop an extraordinary team culture, so if you haven’t downloaded our free workbook, please access this resource. 

This guide will help you define your culture, develop your vision statement, and develop your plan for an extraordinary team culture!





Jenni Catron is a writer, speaker, and leadership coach who consults churches and non-profits to help them lead from their extraordinary best. She speaks at conferences and churches nationwide, seeking to help others develop their leadership gifts and lead confidently. As Founder and CEO of The 4Sight Group, she consults with individuals and teams on leadership and organizational health.

Jenni is the author of several books, including Clout: Discover and Unleash Your God-Given Influence and The 4 Dimensions of Extraordinary Leadership.

Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links, meaning there is no additional cost to you, but I will earn a small commission if you use the links to make a purchase. 




Topics: Leadership, Self Awareness, self leadership, Organizational Development

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