Do you clip their wings?

A few months ago, we lost our parrot through an open window. You can imagine the angst! We found him a few days later, 5 miles away, tired and hungry but unhurt and surely with a real bird story to tell in his old age. He is fully flight capable, since I never wanted to clip his wings and clearly there remains a real risk of him finding his way out of the house once again. For me the essence of being a bird is flight – take that away and the essence of being is lost.

So what? Think about how you grow and develop leaders around you. You’ll hear the expression “to clip their wings” when the aim is to bring someone under control, but too often, this clipping is in fact emasculation and in undertaking it, you will destroy the very essence of the nascent or blossoming leadership characteristics you so much desire.

In my experience of developing leaders over many years, clipping wings is rarely necessary – and never produces the desired result; life may seem easier for a while as your “bird” withdraws into themselves, but this is not the right result if you truly wish to work with the real core of your talented leaders. Guidance, understanding and caring leadership from YOU – will bring the desired results with little or no feather clipping needed.

Take great care – of course leadership requires tough love but remember the essence of the leadership that you seek from your people and don’t destroy it through over zealous feather clipping!

Written by Paul Norris