Be a dog at work!

Yup! That's correct. It's sound advice - Why?

If you want your project or permanent teams to be team in more than name only, then your leadership style and approach can do no better than being like that of the Alpha male and female Africa Wild Dog.

This dog practices what so many leadership experts preach and here are a couple of ... Lessons from the Wild!

I'm the leader

Meeting a high performing team it is not instantly obvious who the leaders is because the whole team feels accountable, engaged and energised. They do not need to be constantly told by one person what to do and how to do it.

Meet the African wild dog pack and the only way you can work out who the leader is:

  • the alpha pairs are the only ones permitted to breed
  • the alpha male is the only one that cocks it's leg when urinating

Outside this you can just see a co-ordinated, committed pack, each one doing what it takes to succeed.

A leaderful team

This leader knows when to lead and when to follow. Leadership in this pack is not about always being the visible one out front - satisfying an ego, dominating and policing. Watch them go on a hunt, leading the pack is not the sole responsibility of the leader, a fresh team member will take over when the lead dog appears to be tiring, hence giving the pack the chance to hold a good pace. The leadership role can exchange at least four times on a hunt.

The leadership shift

A leader who thinks, "what can I get out of this team to achieve my goals", is unlikely to build a sustainable high performing team. True teamwork needs a leader whose attitude is "what can I do to support the team so we can accomplish our goals". Again our dogs display this attitude in their daily life. When a team member is hurt, the pack brings it food; the weak, the pups and the injured are allowed to eat first with the elders and leaders sometimes taking no food at a sitting. Leadership in this team equates to responsibility to do what is best for the team and each member.

Team building

Twice a day the African wild dogs go on the hunt and prior to this they conduct what has been labelled as a pep rally - this rally involves the wild dogs running from dog to dog licking, playing and cavorting. This is seen as their way of getting the team ready and aligned for the hunt ahead.

So strong is this ground rule that even if an opportunity presents itself prior to the pep rally, it will not be taken as they really do need the team to work together and be committee before diving into the task.

The challenge posed is, can we humans really be task effective without being team effective first and do we too often dive into tasks and rush at opportunities without ensuring the team is with us and going after the goals together.

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