Take a Leadership Cue From Nature: Animal World

by | Mar 28, 2019 | Blog Series, Development, Leadership, Management, Perspective, Priorities, Reflection, Self-awareness, Self-Care

This is the last installment in an eight-week series called Take a Leadership Cue From Nature, using naturally occurring phenomena from the world around to illustrate how—if we’re not careful—we can let circumstances undermine our leadership effectiveness. Maybe that thing we’re sensing may not be so strange after all…

This past summer my wife Cheryl and I took a two-week trip to Alaska to celebrate our thirtieth anniversary. One of the obvious realities we discovered is that there’s much more land and wildlife than people. Alaska has the lowest population density in the U.S.: 1.3. persons per square mile (compared to New Jersey at 1,210.1). Granted, much of Alaska’s land is unpopulated frontier. But even in the accessible places there’s a profound sense of being a visitor to a wild place.

We got the chance to both hear and see stories of fascinating wildlife behavior. One was a story a local told us about a Momma bear and her cub. The cub was chased up a tree by his dog and wouldn’t come down out of fear. The Mamma bear then climbed the tree and knocked the cub to the ground to show that it shouldn’t be afraid of a much smaller dog.

Another was something we witnessed personally: A momma moose and her two calves approached a small lake and the cow proceeded to swim across, in an obvious attempt to get the calves to follow. The calves sniffed the water but decided against the swim and walked around to Mom, now waiting on the far shore.

The Mamma bear then climbed the tree and knocked the cub to the ground to show that it shouldn’t be afraid of a much smaller dog.

And Your Point Is…?

Many animal species instinctively develop their young for the road ahead, so why don’t we?

So What?

People want and respond to employers’ learning and development initiatives (AccessPerks.com):

  • 51% of workers said they are satisfied with their current jobs, but gave their employers’ development opportunities a poor grade (The Conference Board).
  • Offering career training and development would keep 86% of millennials from leaving their current position (Bridge).
  • 67% of Gen X leaders said they would like more external coaching and 57% want external development (DDI).
  • 70% of employees believe training could help them become more focused on the job and better at managing their time, but 66% have never asked their managers for such training (Udemy).
  • Businesses with a strong learning culture enjoy employee engagement and retention rates around 30-50% higher than those that don’t (Robert Half).

There are many reasons we don’t see development as a natural, organizational priority. But frankly, I think we just need to commit to it.

People want and respond to employers’ learning and development initiatives.

The Big Picture

It’s an incredible legacy to develop someone else through shared wisdom, experience, knowledge, insight and tools for success. It’s also something virtually anyone can do.

There are many reasons we don’t see development as a natural, organizational priority. But frankly, I think we just need to commit to it.

Your Next Step

With whom will you start?

Want more leadership insights? Check out: 

Taking the Lead - What Riding a Bike Can Teach You About Leadership

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