Leadership and Career Lessons We Can Learn from Animals

eXo Platform Blog

Welcome to the jungle” and “the birds have left the nest” and other similar expressions are often associated with leaving a state of comfort to enter a wild and dangerous world. They are used by our parents and professors to somehow prepare us for what real life holds for us. While the analogy is effective in portraying some aspects of the business world, it considers only on the wild, hazardous aspect of the jungle. But what about the traits that can inspire us to further our careers and become great leaders?

In this blog post, we will take a look at certain creatures and their unique characteristics, and think about what they can teach us about business.

Work hard, like ants

Probably the most important trait if you want to succeed in any aspect of life is to work hard. There is a host of animals associated with hard work, but the one that stands out is of course the ant. Around 12,000 ant species have been discovered so far. These different species have more or less the same castle system. This system consists of queens at the top, then soldier ants, worker ants, and fertile males. Each class has a specific role to perform within the colony. The queen lays down eggs, and both soldier and worker ants perform a variety of tasks such as feeding the larvae, cleaning the eggs and foraging for food. Furthermore, one research study by the University of Regensburg found that we have a striking similarity to ants: we both value hard-earned rewards for our work. The research was quite simple. Ants were placed in front of two paths to get a specific reward. There was one easy path, where they just had to travel in a horizontal line, and another, much more complicated. Results showed that whatever the reward at the end of the path, ants always chose the hard path. This clearly demonstrates a willingness to work hard, and that hard-earned rewards just feel better, and in this case taste better.

Communicate and work in teams, like wolves

“When the snows fall and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies but the pack survives.” This quote from Ned Stark summarizes the importance of sticking and working together to survive the harshest of conditions. And what better animals to teach us this valuable lesson than wolves? Wolves travel in packs. These packs have a hierarchical structure, with the alpha male and female as leaders of the pack, and predefined roles and responsibilities such as protecting the pack or hunting for the rest. Additionally, wolves use a combination of howling, snaps, and body language to communicate over close and long distances, to warn of threats and survive together.

These techniques and situations apply to the workplace. Teams that stick together, know their respective roles and responsibilities and communicate effectively have a higher chance of tackling challenges and thriving in a competitive market.

Lead, like lions

Ever since we were kids, we have been told and taught that the lion is the king of the jungle. Think of popular movies like The Lion King, children’s books, and National Geographic documentaries. We can learn a lot about leadership from these animals, by closely examining their behavior individually or within their prides.

For example, the traits that are often associated with lions, such as courage, strength, and decisiveness, are also the main traits that can make you stand out and be a great leader. Additionally, lions are social animals that live in groups of 10 to 15. These groups consist of lionesses, whose role is to hunt, cubs, and lions who are there to protect the pride.

A great vision, like eagles

Eagles have been objects of admiration and fascination throughout history. Just think of the number of countries with eagles in their flag or as their symbol, or sports teams with eagles as their name or mascot. It is probably a lot. This fascination is due to certain characteristics that make eagles unique. Great vision, fearlessness, great care of and affection for their eaglets, and their overall power make eagles a great example of leadership and success.

Successful leaders are known to have a vision for their career or business, to take risks, to be fearless in order to grow, and to take care of their employees and colleagues.

Adapt to change, like chameleons

Being able to adapt to change is crucial. It ensures you can integrate into new teams, initiate new partnerships, and generally be successful. We can learn how to adapt to certain situations by observing some species that reacted effectively to external factors, like wood frogs that freeze their bodies to survive the winter, or crocodiles, which have been around for 80 million years. However, when we think of change and camouflage, we often think of chameleons. Well, there is a misconception as to why chameleons change their colors. Scientists believe that chameleons change their skin color to reflect their mood or in reaction to the climate. For example, some chameleons tend to be dark in the winter to retain more heat and stay warm. Wouldn’t it be great to show your mood to others without saying anything, or blending into new teams smoothly?

Have the right attitude, like elephants

Recruiters nowadays often look for candidates with the right attitude, personality, and soft skills, to ensure they will blend in easily and work effectively within teams. Elephants are prime examples of animals that demonstrate a great sense of empathy, calmness, togetherness, determination, and of course a great memory. Throughout history, elephants have been able to learn different moves and commands easily in order to perform at public shows or carry out specific daily tasks. Further evidence of elephants’ intelligence is their proven ability to memorize and manipulate tools in their surroundings to get things done.

So here you have it. This is a short but comprehensive list of the traits needed to succeed in the business world. Next time you have trouble sleeping or you want to kill time, make sure to watch an animal documentary. You never know what you might learn from the animal kingdom.

 

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Product Marketing Specialist

I am a product marketing specialist at eXo. My role is to assist marketing and sales teams in their operations and present our digital workplace solution to the world. I mainly blog about the latest tech trends, digital transformation, internal communication and how to navigate through eXo Platform.

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