Ever find your leadership skills tested by something bigger than you?
A couple of weeks ago I rode elephants on my honeymoon in Thailand. If this is an experience you have had--and I'm talking riding for miles, not just for a few feet like you would at a Renaissance Festival--you know there’s only so much control a rider can have over such an impressive beast.
Sure, there are guides who teach you various commands to help direct your pachyderm to move forwards and backwards, stop and take turns; but when an elephant wants to go somewhere, that’s where he goes.
When he was feeling a bit peckish for that tasty tree a little bit off the beaten trail, despite my commands to the contrary, the elephant would wander over to pull up the tree with his trunk (roots and all), stick it in his mouth. CRUNCH!
I wasn't supposed to be thinking about business on my honeymoon, but it occurred to me that employees are a bit like elephants. You can train, build skills, and bark out the appropriate commands--but in the end, it’s still up to employees to decide what they want to do. And sometimes they are a force to be reckoned with!
Here are some tips to make it more likely that there’s less crunching and more forward movement:
You can yell, kick, and scream to get people to do something and go in a certain direction. They might go along with you, but only for a little while. However, when you communicate a clear and compelling path to everyone from the beginning, you’ll find it to be a more steady, satisfying, and profitable journey. It's just tricky getting up there the first time.