We’ve all been there before. We sit in a meeting and share our point of view. As the discussion continues, we get the impression that people aren’t being direct in sharing their opinions. They choose their words more carefully than normal. They hint around and don’t fully express their ideas. They dance. You’ve seen this right? It’s like there is an elephant in the room but you can’t see it, no matter how hard you try. When you are the leader and you can’t see it, there’s a good chance you are the elephant.
Early in my journey as a leader, I found myself in this position more times than I’d like to admit. It’s a sinking feeling to recognize something wasn’t right and yet not know what it was or how to find out. I would resort to trying to be nicer to people as a way to get them engaged in the process. I’d work on my body language and facial expressions when someone shared something I disagreed with, so as to help people open up. I monitored my tone of voice when I disagreed. These were all good thing, and none of them worked. They didn’t work because there was a problem I couldn’t see.
Here’s what I lost when I was the elephant.
I was experiencing the reality that we all have blind-spots in our leadership. I’ve noticed I tend to judge myself by my intentions and others by their actions. This is what causes me to have blind-spots. My intentions and my behavior don’t always align and I need others to point that out to me so I can grow.
Steps to Run the Elephant Out of The Room
The next time you leave a meeting sensing that you were the elephant in the room, follow these steps to increase awareness of your blind-spots. Then, become intentional about growing yourself to eliminate them.
W. Shane McKenzie is The Leadership Transformation Coach. He helps leaders achieve greater effectiveness and become more fulfilled in their work by facilitating positive changes in their leadership behaviors. Join the Leadership Transformation Roundtable to get your copy of the questionnaire Shane uses to discover how close his intentions match the reality of those he leads.
What others are saying about W. Shane McKenzie
"I’ve worked with Shane for several years. He possesses a unique and highly effective combination of strategy, team leader and great communicator, a rare combination. He has a very strategic mind so he makes connections and sees disjointed paths where others do not. This allows him to both plot direction and execute the path to success. He’s truly committed to the greatness in others. He listens fully, asks the right questions at the right time, and gives us the space to both think and respond." - Linda Lindquist-Bishop, Strategic Facilitator, Speaker, Exit Planning for Business Owners, and World Champion Athlete
“Shane has the ability to frame a conversation in a way that brings a thought or concept full circle. He’s excellent at tying each session together, which helped me recognize a pattern of growth. He’s not a “teacher”; he’s a discussion facilitator…in other words these sessions aren’t built around Shane teaching concepts. This method of facilitation opens the door for personal application, which is critical to this development process. He asked questions that forced me to think with intention.”- G. Williams, Product Manager
W. Shane McKenzie is an Executive Coach and Mentor who specializes in helping successful leaders leave their job to own a business using proven strategies to minimize risk.