Sticky Situations: A Leader’s Perspective

WRITTEN BY: Daniel Oh, President – University of Toronto Sports and Business Association

Throughout their terms almost all student leaders will encounter difficult situations when it comes to leading their teams. For some students, the process of dealing with these situations will come naturally – and for others, less so.

This step-by-step guide is for those of us who are not naturals – the many of us who struggle with making a decision when times become difficult.


What is immediately necessary is finding where the problem begins: is it a teammate? Is it a fundamental flaw within the organization?

Oftentimes, at a certain point, reflection is necessary, and some of these questions must be flipped towards you, the student leader. At this point, self-awareness is necessary, but for most people, it is beneficial to begin questioning other members of the team. This process of peer-evaluation is massively helpful for any organization looking to succeed. Do not question the people who will only give you good answers! As those who will honestly tell you how you have been as a leader – good and (especially) bad feedback will help you throughout your term.


Once the problem is identified, it must be tackled. And for each person and each situation, the strategy may vary. In some situations, it may be possible and most efficient to completely remove the problem. For example, if it is a member of the team that is causing the issue, then removing them may prove prudent.

For others, it may simply be having a sitdown with the group or a couple members and hashing out the issues at hand. Oftentimes, having a nice heart-to-heart can benefit all those involved. Again, another example of peer-evaluation.


When you have decided that the problem is tamed, it is important that one reviews the results and steps taken to arrive at that point. For future reference, you may want to write down the process. By reviewing and evaluating the results, you can see where you went wrong and how you can improve the next time a difficult situation may arrive. After all, the best way to learn is through doing.

This article has 2 comments

  1. Daniel, love the simple three step process for dealing with a sticky situation. With finding the root of the problem, we have to make sure we don’t stop at the surface level. Many situations look like the root problem is easy to identify. It’s not. We have to dig and prod a bit to discover what’s truly causing the issue.

  2. Thanks for the last point. Writing stuff down and going back to review potential mistakes is extremely important.

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