Are you familiar with the parable, a group of blind men describing an elephant?
A group of blind men heard that a strange animal, called an elephant, had been brought to the town, but none of them were aware of its shape and form. Out of curiosity, they wanted to inspect and know it by touch. The first person, whose hand landed on the trunk, said "This being is like a thick snake". The second, one whose hand reached its ear, it seemed like a kind of fan. Third person, whose hand was upon its leg, said, the elephant is a pillar like a tree-trunk. The fourth man who placed his hand upon its side said the elephant, "is a wall". The fifth man who felt its tail, described it as a rope. The sixth felt its tusk, stating the elephant is that which is hard, smooth and like a spear.
How does that fable relate to leadership?
In the fable, men described the elephant in their own element. The individual description was an accurate account. However, we know that only in composite we get the full and accurate picture.
The two take aways from this fable are (relation to leadership);
1. Get the individual part right.
2. Aligned all described parts in the right order.
Let’s make this parable an experimental story of our own. The leader of this project wants to create a large creature. He calls it The Elephant. He has a clear understanding, a vision, of the objective. He recruits the team, explains that he is attempting to create a large animal he calls an elephant. He then assigns each individual team member a designated part of the large creature. After a time-lapse and due diligence, each team member gives feedback.
Now the responsibility of the leader is to align those individual accounts in proper order. Once completed the full picture of The Elephant comes to fruition. The vision is achieved.
That is it! Regardless of your leadership style, the principal of leading is quite simple. Leading in any situation is about, having a clear vision (of the final objective) and bringing people together and working with them towards the common goal.
Yet, it is complicated…What if the leader is unable to properly align the individual accounts? The product is a distorted picture.
What if the individual members fail to produce accurate accounts of their parts? What is one member fails to deliver his or her part of the final picture?
The final picture will be unclear.
Therefore, in order to lead in any situation,
Let’s go back to the fable one more time. Let’s pretend there was no leader. Remember that none of the men have ever experienced an elephant before. Each man described the creature based on his experiences. Therefore, the individual descriptions of the elephant were vastly different from each other.
Unless they have a leader with clear vision, in no way can these men bring the picture of the elephant into full realization. Without the leader, the men may suspect the others are dishonest in their account.
Every leader is different, and every leader is equipped with a unique set of experiences and values. Take time to understand your own influencing leadership style. Recognize the need to adapt your leadership style based on the situation and the people being led.
To summarize, To Lead in Any Situation with one addition: