Leadership development is multi-layered and complicated. The flight of a butterfly is also complex, made up of a multitude of movements. What can we learn about entrepreneurship, sales, and running a company from a flitting creature that seems to be there mainly to amuse us on a warm day?
Here is the idea; it comes from chaos theory. Now, I bet I have your attention! Chaos, that rings true to the heart of every adventurous business person on the planet. The flapping of a butterfly's wings have been known to cause a slight change in atmospheric conditions, which through a chain of events may well result in major changes in the weather thousands of miles away. Think of a butterfly in India being the cause of a rain storm in Indiana. A weather system that moves just slightly one way or another could mean rain or continued drought. Blame it on the butterfly!
So, what does that have to do with leadership, with entrepreneurship? It has to do with systems thinking, and that is at the heart of what you do all day, every day. You may be the butterfly, or the wind, doesn't matter. Just think about the fact that nobody's behavior exists independently of his or her interpersonal relationships.
Just this little bit of information can change the way you relate to ...well, everyone. Think about your work team. It is not a collection of disconnected parts. It is a living organism that is unique and complex. Where work teams are concerned systems thinking beats slice and dice analytic thinking any day. Once you begin to ask yourself how your behavior is impacting those around you the inter-active word of the office begins to change.
You may have to take some time and think about what you want as an outcome; a rain shower, a drought, or a flood? The shake of your wings is just enough to get what you want.
That's what Kathy did.
She had a valued employee who was not yet ready to lead a team. The more she worked at getting this junior partner up to speed the more tension there was in their relationship. Once I explained the butterfly effect in a coaching session, the light bulb went on. "Okay, now I get it" she sighed in relief. "If I stop making so many impossible demands on her she may settle down and get some real work done. I'll have to do some redesign and get her out of the leadership level for the short term and let her practice with a less intense group."
Yup, she got it. By fluttering her wings too fast in the wind she was creating a strong storm. By letting up she was getting the environment she needed to get some work accomplished. Think about how even just a small change can be of vast importance as you move ahead this year to create the winning future you want.
Allow your employees to breath and let them grow their own wings. And don't forget to thank a butterfly!