Have you heard the story about the Frog and the Scorpion?
A Scorpion asks a Frog to carry him over a river. The Frog is afraid of being stung during the trip, “I would, but you will sting me”. The Scorpion pleads that he certainly will not! Again, the Frog argues, “I would, but you will sting me. Again, the Scorpion pleads, “Please, I must get across and I promise not to sting you”. The Scorpion argues that if it stung the frog, both would sink and the Scorpion would drown. The Frog agrees and begins carrying the Scorpion, but midway across the river the Scorpion does indeed sting the Frog, dooming them both.
When asked why, the Scorpion says, “WHAT DID YOU EXPECT. I’M A SCORPION. IT’S MY NATURE!”
The morale of the story and relevancy to leadership in organizations is that in changing and dynamic times, Leaders cannot expect their organizations or employees to undergo a change unless they change as well. They cannot exhibit the same “nature” and expect different results.
A leader cannot expect to demonstrate old leadership behaviors in the same manner and expect different results from their employees. (This is one of the definitions of insanity: Doing the same thing and expecting a different result!) Like the Scorpion, most leaders are entrenched in his or her “Nature”. They believe they can remain the constant and people will develop, evolve and change to meet new and dynamic situations without themselves evolving and developing new techniques. This is simply not the case.
Competent leaders in today’s dynamic business environments must engage in serious self-reflection to understand how they can modify personal behaviors to adapt to changing work environments and personnel. Especially with the introduction of the Millennials, or Generation Y employees into the workforce, old and antiquated leadership behavior and skills will be ineffective in these changing environments.
So I challenge you: Be a Chameleon and not the Scorpion. Do not sting your employees, but rather adapt, change, and inspire people to conquer new challenges! Remember, if a relationship or plant doesn’t not change and grow, it will die….. just like the Scorpion and the Frog.