The Elephant in the Leadership Room

The Elephant in the Leadership Room

written by Derek Weber

I recently attended the first session of a three part leadership series for young professionals put on by Connect With (tickets are still available for the last two seminars).  One of the breakout sessions I attended was led by two representatives from the Dale Carnegie Institute about some of the different leadership styles: Visionary, Achiever, Facilitator, and Analyzer.  Like a lot of entrepreneurs, I fell into the Visionary category, although for me, Facilitator came in a close second.  After we broke up into groups of styles and discussed the way each group of individuals sees things, it was striking to find how different each group saw and would approach the same scenario.  It reminded me of the ancient parable from India The Blind Men and the Elephant, which John Godfrey Saxe wrote is famous poem about.

If you haven’t heard of this parable, it details how six blind men touch an elephant to describe its qualities; each man touches a different location (tusk, side, leg, tail, trunk, ear) which made each one conclude very differently what the elephant was like.  This is very similar to leadership styles.  The way we think things are is actually just the way our experiences and personal filters make us perceive things to be.

So, when you are working with people who are of a different leadership style than yours, don’t be so quick to get frustrated when you think they are just shooting holes in your ideas or not looking at the big picture or just not getting it.  You both may be looking at the same elephant of an idea, but just aren’t touching the same areas.  The key is to try to see things from their perspective and try to find a way to describe your idea in a way that allows them to see and touch a common theme.  If you keep this in mind when you meet resistance when pitching an idea, you will be much more prepared to respond in an effective manner…as opposed to just getting frustrated.

Derek Weber
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