Many managers are trying to determine how to develop high performing teams. They rake through the variables, attempting to find the “final solution,” only to be dismayed when employees continue to underperform.

Let’s look at the numbers: 72% of the workforce is disengaged (Gallup); 66% of corporate strategies are never executed (Ernst and Young); in one year $544 billion dollars were lost due to disengaged workforce (Inc. Magazine). As the list goes on, we can logically conclude that the employees are at fault, right? In fact, some are just out-right lazy and have no sense of what a solid work-ethic is, yes?

The fact that some people embrace the above logic is a significant “elephant in the office” for companies. And it’s costing them in mighty ways.

Consider that the primary reason for poor performing teams is the leadership being applied. Sadly, all too often, the suspect manager rarely looks at how they’re leading, but rather points the blame at the workforce.

As a friend shared, “That’s like blaming the bread for burning in the toaster.”


This blaming approach (called the B-Lame Game in our book, Stomp the Elephant in the Office) distracts teams and breaks the trust and communication necessary to move forward and achieve.

Burnt Toast: Up as well as Down

Of course, the “it’s-the-bread’s-fault-for-burning” approach works when you attempt to lead upwards as well. Think of it: “Yes! If I criticize my senior leadership enough, if I talk behind their back, if I display bad body language – if I make them feel the heat and burn – then they’ll change! Yeah, that’ll do it.” This approach is a waste as the logic is flawed.

Do you know someone who’s using the “toaster approach?” Are they burning the bread? Help them understand: The problem isn’t bad people. It’s an unproductive leadership approach and a weak culture that tolerates such.

Where will you lead – where will you stomp elephants – today?

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