Early the next morning, with the sun yet to break through over the horizon, the student met the professor, but he sat there saying nothing. Confused and bemused, it suddenly occurred to him that the last lecture on leadership had been all about proactivity. Seeing how little success his teacher was having with catching anything, he had a brainwave. Without saying a word he rushed down to the supermarket and came back with some beautifully shiny, newly cleaned fish fillets - ready to eat. “Here we go”, he beamed. “No need to carry on fishing, I anticipated your needs and solved the problem for you - Isn’t that leadership?”
The professor stretched his arms back in an expansive, relaxed manner and pointed to the surreal setting of water glistening in the early morning sun, and commented. “Do you really think my primary purpose of coming here is to catch fish? Proactivity in leadership is only helpful if you first understand the real purpose of those you report to.” Catching on fast, and recalling the lesson on asking more than telling, the student responded with a question. “What can I do to help?”
“Well my fishing boxes haven’t been tidied up in years. I am also getting old and if I do happen to hook a big one, I will need your help to bring it in. But you will have to anticipate that one, as I won’t have time to ask for help.”
The student immediately got to work, even roping in some passers-by to help with the challenge. Keeping half an eye out in anticipation of his teacher landing the Big One, he busied himself organising 20 years of hooks, line, sinkers and fancy novelty fishing gifts he has been given over the years, all tangled together in the boxes. Encouraging the volunteers to keep going, he suddenly realised he had answered his own question. “Professor, I think I get it!
Leadership is about understanding the purpose and inspiring others to help achieve it. Management is about organising the people and resources you need to achieve it, and then ensuring the work actually gets done. You can’t really be successful unless you have both!”
At that exact moment, the rod bent in half and the student jumped up to help the professor land the biggest catch of the day! No further words were spoken, the lesson was learnt!