“Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Teach him how to fish, and he’ll eat forever.”
These really are words to live by. They not only tell us how we should treat others (our children, family, friends, etc), but also how we should lead others, whether it be teammates, subordinates, or followers.
This is what leadership is all about. It’s about teaching others how to create success and achieve results on their own, as opposed to providing them success and achievments. To really be effective leaders, we have to equip others with the tools and knowledge necessary for them to strive and succeed on their own. That is, we have to “teach them how to fish.”
Think back to your leadership journey. Were you ever handed answers, achievements, or a title? If you were, then what did you learn from that experience? I would be so bold as to say “Not Much.” See, when things are handed to us (when we are given a fish) we don’t learn anything. We enjoy that success for the short term (we’ll eat for a day), but then we fall down, because nothing was instilled in us to continue striving. We didn’t have to work for it. It’s kind of like that spoiled little brat down the street that everyone knew of when they were growing up. They were entitled and lazy.
Now, back to your leadership journey. Did you have someone that forced you to go looking for the answers? In other words, did they teach you how to fish? See, when that happens (when we have to seek out our own answers, or work hard to strive for our own success and accomplishments), that’s when we learn. That’s when we are able to eat for a lifetime. And, that’s the kind of leaders we need to be. The ones that will teach our followers how to lead. Teach our followers how to accomplish. Teach our followers how to succeed. We need to empower our followers and challenge them to create their own success, and quit providing all the time. We have to cut them loose from our coat tails, and put them in an environment where they have to succeed on their own. This can be tough at times. I’ll relate it to our children. We want to provide, provide, provide, but that can get us close to spoiling them. The better option is still to provide when necessary, but then try to empower and teach. Get tough. Challenge them to seek out answers on their own. Challenge them to become independent. Challenge them to start their own journey. Challenge them to strive for excellence but embrace failure. Challenge them to finish the race.
From our children, to our friends, to our coworkers, to our followers, to everyone we touch, we have to be leaders who will: teach them how to fish, so that they can eat for a lifetime.