J. Keith Hughey


 Volume XXII, Number 8 (Issue 1064) February 19, 2024 

To Be, Or Not to Be…


 On a wall in our living room hangs a triptych depicting the miraculous transfiguration of a caterpillar into a butterfly. That transformation from ugly caterpillar to beautiful creature takes place millions if not billions of times each year. Something similar occurs in the modern workplace tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of times each year when individuals with certain aptitudes and stellar technical skills are afforded the opportunity to step into a managerial or leadership role. But beyond the frontline supervisor role, how many progress to the next level? More to the point, how many are prepared to succeed at that first leadership level, let alone the next? 

Research suggests that in nature the odds are not that good in the case of butterflies, since less than one in ten of the eggs a Monarch butterfly lays in a season survives to become a butterfly. Thanks to the natural enemies that exist and the actions of man, something short of ten percent constitutes a poor survival rate. Might a similar pattern and success rate hold true in the case of people and their progression in the workplace? What fraction of those who enter the workforce ever reach the upper echelons? Is the number one in ten or something far less? If it is that low or lower, what might we do to improve the outcome? 

Did you know that this year the Gen Z’s will surpass the Boomers as a percentage of the workforce? There are numerous good qualities to be found in this newest generation of workers. However, there are also significant complaints being leveled against them as a group, including poor communication skills and an inability to separate their personal life and their professional life. Then there is the matter of being prepared and equipped to lead. Only a small percentage of us are equipped to lead when the first opportunity or need presents itself. Nonetheless, when it comes to Gen Z, there appear to be noticeable shortcomings. 

According to an article in the February 13, 2024, SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) newsfeed, some larger organizations are offering leadership and communication training to the newest generation of workers. Other organizations are looking to the more experienced managers in their ranks to mentor and coach the newbies toward success. Another avenue includes the third-party programs like our DELTA initiative that are meant to develop the power skills of those we might classify as emerging leaders. 

Whatever the means and medium, the important thing is the youngest generation of workers must be better prepared to not just survive but thrive as leaders if we want our organizations to succeed. It is, after all, all about the people. 

I accept that a piece of today’s missive may come across as a sales pitch for our DELTA initiative and perhaps it is. What I know for certain is turnover is expensive. Very expensive! While much has changed about work and the workplace in recent decades, the correlation between an immediate supervisor’s effectiveness and their people’s job satisfaction and retention has not changed other than to grow more pronounced. Therefore, the more you do to help caterpillars transform into butterflies, the better off you, your team, and your organization will be. 

Soli Deo Gloria 

“’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” Jeremiah 12:11 

J. Keith Hughey

Mobile: (210)260-0955 



Transforming Potential into Unmatched Performance

Copyright 2024 by J. Keith Hughey. All rights reserved. Permission is hereby granted for reproduction and redistribution of this essay as provided under the copyright laws of the United States of America. Recent issues of Musings may be found at Your comments are always welcome.

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