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Give the Fish or Teach How to Fish?



Had coffee with a leader of an organization and halfway through our conversation, he suddenly shared his frustration and complained that he often finds himself inundated with requests for guidance and direction from his managers. He is also feeling irritated by the perceived lack of proactivity amongst them.


Initially, his response to the team's dependence on him for answers was to provide immediate solutions—a quick fix to address the pressing issues at hand. However, as he reflected on his recurring pattern, he began to question the efficacy of this approach. He realized that by constantly providing answers, he was inadvertently fostering a culture of dependency and stifling his team's autonomy and initiative.


The leader learned the importance of asking probing questions that encouraged critical thinking and problem-solving among his team members. Instead of simply handing out the fish to eat, he realized the value of teaching his team How to Fish—to equip them with the skills, knowledge, and confidence to tackle challenges independently.


This new way of management and leadership would create opportunities for the team members to take ownership of projects, make decisions, and learn from both successes and failures. It would also encourage open dialogue and collaboration, fostering a culture where ideas were welcomed, and innovation thrived.


This would also allow the leader to be freed from the burden of the daily work challenges and allow him to focus on strategic priorities and fostering growth for the organization.

In embracing the mantra Slow is Fast, the leader discovered that by investing time and effort in developing his manager’s capabilities, he is laying the groundwork for long-term success.


By teaching the team how to fish, he is not only empowering individuals but also building a resilient and self-sufficient organization poised for growth in an ever-changing business landscape.


I wish him all the best in his new endeavor.


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