How to Kill a Butterfly

Posted May 27, 2009 in Latest News & Insights

Here’s an observation:

The metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly is a oft-used analogy for organizations that are taking their teams through change or for individuals embarking on a personal growth experience.

It’s makes a great story: a caterpillar can’t stop the change from coming; the transitional state between caterpillar and butterfly is pretty messy; the final emergence of the butterfly is cause for celebration… now you can do/be/achieve more than any lowly caterpillar could dream of achieving.

A consulting firm I ran used the analogy to promote one of our leadership programs…from lowly caterpillar-like leader to brilliant butterfly-like leader where the sky’s the limit.

All great, but as an overwhelmed manager pointed out to… if you put too much pressure on the chrysalis and try and force the caterpillar out of it’s cocoon too quickly, it will die.

So, there’s the cautionary lesson for leaders as we pull our teams through the goo from catepillar to buttefly.  Exert too much pressure during the change process and your team may burn out and (figuratively speaking) die.

Finding the right balance between push and pulling through any change initiative is tricky. In my observation, as leaders we have to make sure we’re not over exerting the pressure on the team to move through the change.  Open door dialog and active listening are probably two of the most important tools to draw on.  Also, taking the time to celebrate success and have some fun will replenish some much needed team energy, so don’t forget to do that too.

What are you thoughts?

Happy leading!


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