met a leader who shared a story with me. it was his 'elephant gun' story. he said he had shared this story with a meeting and it had spread like wildfire after. it goes something like this...
" i was watching a documentary the other day about a herd of elephants making its way across the african plains. one of the baby elephants in the herd was injured and couldn't walk very well. It seemed to be dragging itself along on its knees. the documentary shared that the herd would wait for its injured member for about a day. if the injured member, baby or not, couldn't keep up after a day, they'd just abandon it. now, i won't be so cruel. i'd definitely be more patient and give more time, certainly more than a day. but after a few days, if it still couldn't keep up, i wouldn't be so heartless to abandon it to die, i'd take out a gun, shoot and kill it. no point prolonging the pain."
wah liao- was my first reaction.
last night, for some reason or the other i was thinking about this story again and reflecting on whether i was or could be that sort of leader. i think things would be simpler for me if i were like that. get rid of those who slow you down. but i'm not and i don't think i should be. i think if you had asked me a few years earlier, maybe right out of grad school, i could be so heartless. but i'm not the same person anymore, and over the years i've learnt to value diversity in all senses of the word and i think everyone has something to contribute, as long as they want to contribute.
i mean its different, if that little elephant was fooling around and just trying to make life difficult for everyone, and divert the others from their goal. but if it was really injured, disadvantaged and helpless, how could you fault it. and what happens if i, for some reason or the other, fail to perform one day. would i then expect that my leader show me mercy and patience, when i may not have earlier?
i think, as a leader, i'd rather compromise achieving our goals than have to sacrifice a team member. i think the means are as important as the ends. Of course, you'd also have to balance the needs and aspirations of the entire team. i suppose that is what makes leadership so so challenging. Anyhow, i'd rather be remembered as a leader or friend, who stuck with the team, even the most disadvantaged, than a leader who achieved all that she set out to, but had to resort to using the elephant gun.
Labels: eveel ramblings