Taking Steps Toward Leadership–The lesson of the wolf pack

Does that apply in the people world?  What do you think?

The old wolves in the front know where to go.  They’ve been there before.  They understand the migration of the prey, the locations for water and shelter, and the known enemies of the territory.  These are not the alpha dogs now, but they might have been when they were younger.  They have given up or been forced out of the alpha designation, but that doesn’t mean they have been ousted from the pack.  It just means they have a different job now.

The strong wolves behind them are learning from the older ones how to lead a pack.  They need the information that these old wolves can provide.  At the same time, they are learning patience because they must go at a slower pace.  They are body guards for the leading line of the pack.  They protect and serve.  They are stronger than the old wolves, and much younger.

The middle of the pack is for mothers and cubs and the weaker members of the pack.  The alpha female is at the back of this group to make sure all are keeping up.  If the pack is attacked,  the mothers will stick close to the cubs and weaker members and they’ll defend like a well oiled machine.

The strong wolves at the rear of the pack are the main defense as they can see the whole line of the pack and can be at a trouble spot in seconds.

Finally, in the back we have the alpha male.  He directs his troops and covers the whole pack so they aren’t ambushed.  Because he’s the alpha male and therefore stronger and smarter than the others, any predator that thinks he can sneak up on the lone wolf in the back of the pack is in for a nasty surprise.

When hunting, the strong wolves, led by the alpha, work as a team to corral and take down the prey and the older wolves stay with the weaker group.  After the hunt, this group is the last to share in the kill.  So when a wolf pack moves, the alpha leads from the back.  When the pack hunts, he is in the thick of the fray.

As a leader, your main goal is to replace yourself.  You put your future leaders in contact with wise and experienced older leaders and you are ready to jump in when the situation calls for it.  In the heat of battle, you make sure you are in control of your crew and you work together as a team to surmount any difficulties.  You call the shots and do the tactical and strategic planning, then you trust your old leaders and your crew to do their jobs and as a team, you can be victorious.

The key to this is in a wolf pack, every wolf knows his job and how to communicate with the others in the pack.  You have to make people’s job requirements and expectations crystal clear.  You don’t want to wait until the grizzly bear is in the middle of the pack to have a discussion on who’s in charge of what.  You could play the “Worst Case Scenario” with your younger leaders and teach them through games and simulations.  You could discuss contingencies related to your business.  You’ll want to do what ever it takes to help your team work like a team so it can continue even without you.

Aaaaaooooooooo!  (Wolf howl…)  Be a good model of what you want in the leader that follows you, then show him the ropes.

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