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  • Writer's pictureHickman Rose Strategies

4 Skills Leaders Can Learn From Butterflies

Updated: Jul 27, 2021

Cierra Selby*, Guest Contributor

Nature can be a wonderful resource when comes to knowledge and wisdom. So what exactly can butterflies teach us about leadership? Here are a few skills that leaders can adopt from butterflies in order to take their leadership from good to great.

Communication ️️️

Although butterflies are not talkers they are definitely communicators. This tells us that the most important kind of communication isn’t necessarily verbal. Butterflies move respectfully from flower to flower without interrupting each other. They flow with synchronicity and are able to use this skill to stay productive. Communication is a core leadership function. Leaders should understand that communicating with who matters most when it matters most, is the only way to maximize productivity. All in all, leaders must be skilled in communication in order to create a culture of effective communication throughout their organizations.


Butterflies thrive on change. They know that change is inevitable. Instead of resisting it, they prepare for it. They understand that adaptability is key in nature because adjustments have to happen in order to survive. Being flexible, adaptable, and mindful of each other is what will help both leaders and staff to better embrace workplace outcomes in crisis such as the Covid-19 pandemic. As we continue into uncharted territory, it is important for leaders to master communicating change in a way that is both effective and thoughtful. Change communication plans are useful tools that can be used to clarify change for all stakeholders. These plans put employees at ease, and can be a reliable way to gain their support in the changes to come.


The journey from a caterpillar to a butterfly is a true example of character development. It takes grit to embrace transition, especially if it’s something you’re encountering for the first time. Grit is a quality that, if developed and practiced, would allow leaders to become better leaders. For many of those in leadership roles, this pandemic is the first time they’ve encountered a crisis. It took some time, but, most of us have realized that everything has changed. Just as a caterpillar in a cocoon for the very first time, they must push past fear and anxiety toward perseverance and resilience in order to accomplish new goals. This is vital in order for leaders to carry their organizations, and staff into a different, but better world.


To the average person, butterflies appear to be small, delicate, and fragile. Due to their appearance, they are rarely ever recognized for their strength. However, a butterfly undergoes many challenges in order to emerge from their cocoon. When they finally do, they must find the strength and courage to fly. Some researchers recognize courage as the most important leadership virtue. Often times, leaders must muster up the courage to create a path forward, while inspiring others to follow. In the past, all it took was solid education and experience to thrive in a leadership role. However, as we navigate an ever more complex world, leaders must also have courage. In times of change, leaders need the courage to persist. They have to do the work to build the muscle necessary to take action in the face of fear.

So there you have it. These leadership skills are more important than ever, especially for leaders overseeing workplace dynamics amidst COVID 19. It is never easy to face uncertainty. Leaders will need to make decisions and tackle challenges as they arise, but it can become natural and rewarding with time. If a butterfly can manage to master these skills, surely leaders can too.

* This article first appeared on LinkedIn. It is reposted here with the author's permission.


Cierra Selby is Founder and Senior Consultant at The Comms and Culture Firm, an internal communications and workplace culture consultancy providing training, coaching, and events to nonprofit organizations and public institutions. She assists executives and organizations in using internal communication and positive workplace culture as a competitive advantage and strategic force for good. Her work has been featured by The Communications Network and Nonprofit Hub. You can connect with her via Twitter and LinkedIn.

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