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How to Inspire Others to Fly

Organizations that don’t develop leaders – die. One of the great questions of leadership is, “How are you inspiring others to fly?”


Surprisingly, baby bluebirds grow from birth to fledglings in about three weeks. Before they fledge, they require constant care and feeding. Eventually they peek at the world through the small round door in their home.

Parents fly to the door with grubs and bugs. We hear the young going nuts. But at fledging time, mom and dad shift tactics.

No food:

Bluebird parents land at the door WITHOUT food at fledging time. We still hear crazy chirping but the parent pauses and flies away.

Eventually daddy bluebird perches nearby with a juicy meal dangling from his beak. While daddy coaxes the young from the white birch, mommy demonstrates the desired behavior. Over and over she flies from the birch to the house and back to where daddy dangles the bug.

Redefining help:

Bluebirds expect their young to come to them. They stop showing up with food and expect their young to come and get it.

Redefine ‘help’ when others are ALMOST ready to take flight.

Change your patterns of helping to instigate growth in others. It might be stressful but it won’t be disappointing if everyone knows why you stopped showing up with food.

Maybe you’ve been showing up in someone’s office to check-in. Now it’s time for them to show up in your office, for example.

You change first.

Help to a novice is an insult to experience. 

If you don’t change the way you help, others will eventually reject you. If you treat your teen like an infant, they will eventually hate you.

Help differently not necessarily help less. But if you expect to take on new challenges, eventually you will help less.

What makes helping helpful?

Tip: Effective helping includes rising above the need to be needed.

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