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Exposing the Elephant in the Room


Welcome to the beginning of another Spring season,  I hope your
New Year is off to a great start!

To help celebrate this wonderful time for renewal and growth, I’d
like to share a client story of particular significance.

A Bold Plan Embarked On
As you know, setting a bold plan for the New Year is often like
drinking from a firehose.  There are analyses to do, risks to weigh,
choices to make – all within a finite period of time.   In a recent
planning session, one of our clients had all of this times ten as they
were at the precipice of launching a redefined product platform with
a vision of long-term differentiation and success.
Yet, as we were preparing to get into the details of the plan, it
became apparent there was a disruptive, unresolved conflict between
two key members of the Leadership Team (Director of Sales, Director
of Engineering).  It had been going on for some time, the Team
was negatively impacted by it, and yet everyone gingerly went out
of their way to avoid discussing this classic “elephant in the room”.
A Critical Decision – People or Process
The CEO was faced with a critical decision.  Deal with the people, or move forward with the process and succumb to the pressure of all the impending “critical things that need to be done”.  The right decision was made – to prioritize people over process – and the CEO expertly reminded the Team that “if you truly want to operate as a high performing team, you must ensure you call each other to task when members aren’t being true to their values”.
Elephant Hunting Pursued
So in the spirit of their value of “having difficult conversations and helping each other recognize blind spots holding them back from growth”, the elephant was confronted.  The conversation was tough at first, emotions were raw, root causes were avoided – but the Team stayed with the discomfort, continuing the dialogue until a willingness to acknowledge behavior and let go of the past emerged.
A Revitalized Team – Now Playing to Win
The end result – two leaders once conflicted, now displayed authentic public support for each other’s Departments.  While the proof of success for the new product plan remains to be seen, one thing is certain: had the CEO decided to sidestep the elephant in the room again, the new product launch would have a much lower probability of succeeding – supported by a half-baked Team with members spending more time managing their resentment and agenda, than collaborating toward greater organizational prosperity.  Now the Team – and furthermore the whole organization – is free to operate with greater collaboration, harmony, and power.
In these first few days of Spring we invite you to consider if you have any elephant hunting to do on your own teams that could help make room for fresh progress and vitality.
Wishing you a season filled with growth and possibility.

Partner Selections for March 2015

Decoding Leadership – What Really Matters McKinsey  |  What’s the secret to developing effective leaders?  New research suggests four specific behaviours are mission critical.

How to Start a Conversation You’re Dreading
HBR  |  Do you know the ‘cringe moment’ – that uneasy instant just as you finish saying something risky, but before the other person responds?

The Authenticity Paradox
HBR  |  Authenticity has become the gold standard for leadership. But too simplistic an understanding can hinder a leader’s growth and impact.

Why Strategy Execution Unravels & What to Do About It
HBR  |  It’s pretty dire when half the C-Suite can’t connect the dots between strategic priorities or what to do about it.

The Pros and Cons of Elon Musk’s Perfectionism
Inc  |  The SpaceX and Tesla founder doesn’t work well with ‘normal’ people, yet this has helped him succeed where no one else has.

5 Ways to Listen Better
TED  |  In our louder and louder world “we are losing our listening”.  It’s time to retune our ears for conscious listening — to others, and the world.

Strateco is a new breed of consulting firm that seamlessly integrates Strategy with Leadership.   We help organizations create, integrate, and execute winning strategies, while developing higher functioning leaders.   To get a sense of our philosophy download your PDF copy of our newly released white paper:  Strategy + Leadership 2.0

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