A man was walking by the side of the road and came across a butterfly cocoon on a tree.
He saw the small hole on the cocoon and the butterfly struggling to come out of the cocoon.
Fascinated by what he was seeing with this butterfly’s struggle, he stood there watching the butterfly struggling to come out of the small hole of the cocoon.
He decided to leave.
A few hours later he came back.
The butterfly was still struggling to come out of the small hole.
He stood there again watching, thinking what he could do to help. He felt for the butterfly and wanted to do something to help.
Again he went away hoping that when he returns, the butterfly would have flown away.
When he returned, to his surprise, the butterfly was still struggling through the hole and looked like it was almost to give up.
This time he could not hold himself back, so he wanted to help.
He took out a pair of scissors he had with him, and cut through the cocoon.
And out came the butterfly with ease.
But to his absolute horror, instead of the butterfly that he expected, the butterfly had a damaged body with its damaged wings.
Because the man in his haste to help did not realise that the struggle for the butterfly to get through the hole in the cocoon actually serves to force the fluid from its body into its wings so that it can be fully formed to fly as a butterfly should.
This story reminds me every time I’m tasked with working people or mentoring.
Leaders love it when people come to them with questions and problems to solve.
They quickly help by coming up with an answer or solution.
I’m not sure if this makes leaders feel valuable, that they are helping but dishing out advice and assistance to their team.
This may be beneficial in the short term but it creates a culture of dependency of team to its leader and the team rarely develops their own problem solving skills.
As a leader before you dive in to give advice, just remember how much the team learns and grows from the struggle of solving their own problems.
The role of the leader is to guide them and direct them to where they may find solutions, not give them solutions.
Through the struggle, the butterfly always finds its way out of the cocoon, it may take a while, but eventually the solution will be found, or developed.