Smart leaders give others a say in aligning on a common purpose

There is an ancient Indian parable about six blind men, none of whom had ever encountered an elephant before. The way they learn about the elephant is by touching it. Each blind man feels a different single part of the elephant’s body, the side, a leg or it’s tusk. They describe the elephant from their individual perspective in widely varying ways, which leads to them arguing about who is right and suspecting each other of being dishonest.

The parable illustrates the point that we claim we know the absolute truth based on our limited, subjective experience. We also ignore other people’s equally valid experiences.

The story could also apply to how each person on a team sees the world from their own perspective.

Chris wanted to make sure he discovered how his leadership team viewed the business when he arrived in his new role. It was tempting to skip this discovery step and hare off on a strategic planning session to shape the future. But he did not want them to be like the blind men and the elephant, stuck with their individual point of view, arguing with each other about who was right. Everyone aired their perceptions based on their experience. Once they validated each other’s perspective, they were ready to align on a purpose that inspired them all.

They decided they did not want to drift further down the path of mediocrity and committed to being a bigger player, not just in their financial performance but also through making a larger impact on their clients.

In the book, The Three Laws of Performance, the authors Steve Zaffron and Dave Logan suggest, “Leaders have a say and give others a say in how situations occur.” Chris had surrounded himself with leaders who let go of their previously held individual views and grasped the opportunity to align with a new future.

🙋‍♀️ How do you get teams to align on a common purpose in your experience?🙋‍♂️

Best Regards, Brian