What Does Your Elephant Look Like?

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Many entrepreneurs and managers carry around an “elephant in the room” with them. The elephant, also known as a blind spot, is the big obstacle that is holding that person back from developing or excelling in their job. It’s also holding your company back from reaching its full potential.

The key to forward progress is (a) knowing that you are carrying around an elephant, and (b) intentionally doing something about it. If you ignore the elephant too long, it will break your back (Elephants are heavy!)

Dave Wright, a successful landscape entrepreneur (and a member of the Landscape Ontario leadership team) brought this to our attention last week in our recent peer group meeting, as we discussed growth prospects for 2018. (Dave is a long time participant in my Leader’s Edge peer group, and he was cajoling the group members to each “deal” with their elephants.)

Here is a partial list of each owner’s elephant-in-the-room that we discussed:

  • Not making faster and bolder decisions
  • Too many systems running through the owner, not enough delegation
  • Not having a handle on your budget, running the business too much on instinct.
  • Being too dependent on one service in order to make year-end profits (snow)
  • Not having scalable systems to support the high level of growth
  • Not following through on your commitment to work fewer hours
  • Excessive spending in overhead

As Dave and the group ran through this list, it caught everyone’s attention, and made each person stop and think about how to address the blind spot i.e. slay the elephant.

My question for you to consider: What does your company’s elephant look like?

And who is pointing out that your elephant-in-the-room is still getting in the way of your improvement and growth? Here are 4 paths to enlightenment:

  1. Your employees can help you identify your elephant-in-the-room, if you allow them to be honest with you, and take the time to listen
  2. Your spouse may have insights on your elephants at work
  3. Your coach or mentor can definitely help you
  4. Your peer group members should be able to give you this feedback

Once identified, it is important to keep the elephant a front burner topic in all strategic and management meetings, so that it doesn’t get swept under the rug by pressing day to day issues.

My next question, who is telling your managers about their blind spots? Are you? It is best done both verbally and in writing, either in group exercises or one on one (e.g. written reviews.)

For you and your company to reach its full potential this year, you have to acknowledge the elephants in the room, and then slay them.

Many people are afraid to talk about the elephant in the room, and yet that is exactly what needs to happen. How can you help facilitate the conversations in your company to bring a spotlight to these troublesome elephants?

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