Clear That Elephant From Your Room

SINGER Alexandra Burke is not the only one with X-Factor appeal to have had a sensational hit with an Elephant in the Room.

Okay, so Naked Leader founder David Taylor may not have what it takes to bang out a tune in a tight fitting outfit. He has been known to stretch his vocal chords on stage, though, and certainly hits the high notes in his Naked Leader ‘Elephant in the Room’ sessions.

As an example, eight people from an international company were involved with David as he sought to resolve some key issues between them, which they were not dealing with as a team.

David explains: ‘There were three main cliques, including one inner circlea board within a board. It was not conducive to a harmonious working relationship. I had 24 hours (evening and day) to turn them into one Board while addressing and resolving the big issues that were being avoided [the elephants in the room].’

One evening, before dinner, in a private room, David asked the group about what they wanted to achieve as a groupwhile earning their trust as he did so.

The key principles of Elephant in the Room were applied, where David prepared the ground by conveying aspects of the session such as why human beings respond best to positive feedback, the three positive drivers for people at work, and why real business examples are always better than theory and general statements. He also explained when to give negative feedback, how to learn from it, and revealed the four most powerful words to use, that always work.

On the following day, using the Formula for Guaranteed Success, namely ‘Know where you want to Go, Know where you are Now, Know what you have to do to get where you want to Go, and Do it!’ David took the group to the next stage.

‘I knew the key was to get someone to address one of the key issues, and that once that issue was in the room, to be discussed truth had to come out,’ he says.

The rule is that somebody holds ‘the elephant’ when it is their turn to speak and they can only have their say when they are holding it and everyone else must pay them total and absolute attentionin silence. The idea is to obtain complete truth in the room, with people allowed to air their views without fear of reprisal. It is extremely liberating.

David recalls: ‘I remember holding theelephantfor what seemed like an eternity, before someone took it from me. It started very gently, then as it progressed people got more and more comfortable, being uncomfortable. Then it happened, someone who had not previously spoken raised the issue of theinner circleand named the people. We were away!’

Finding the wow factorsorry Alexandra that’s wow not Xis what drives David in these meetings and he was not disappointed. ‘Forty five minutes later, some very forthright opinions had been expressed and people had been speaking to each other, not about each other,’ he tells me. ‘All within the needed discipline of the “Elephant process. It really waswow!And all within a safe, confidential session.’

David adds: ‘It was cathartic, it raised the really big issues that needed to be raised, and most importantly it set a standard for communication that they have maintained ever since. The single biggest factor in the success of any team is its openness with each other. Behind closed doors, will you raise what needs to be raised? How often does the room go ice cold as a result of someone saying what everyone else is merely thinking? Do you meet to waste time, or to do business?’

Six months on and the group have continued with the openness, respect and trust created in a single hour. Meetings have been cut by half in time, and the number of meetings held has also been halved.

David is proud of the outcome and believes that what must come out of the Elephant sessions is that the concept should be embedded into the everyday culture and behaviours of an organisation.

‘In this particular project, it was achieved across different cultures, proving that the elephant sure knows how to travel,’ he concludes.

So, you don’t need to wait for a pop star to ask ‘wanna talk, wanna talk, wanna talk about it?’

Just sign up for a Naked Leader Elephant in the Room event and learn how to get on and do it yourselves!

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