The power of pride

25 May 2011
Organisations could do worse than look at the way a pride of lions operates when it comes to successful teams – so said Ian Thomas, motivational speaker at the CIPS Southern Africa Pan-African Conference in Johannesburg yesterday. He wasn’t talking about eating your competition for breakfast but there was an element of survival of the fittest. Most of all it was about the importance of trust and teamwork. Taking down a bull buffalo or a stallion zebra takes immense strength and skill, which is why lions work always together as a team, he said. While the lionesses hunt and provide food, male lions protect the pride’s territory and together they ensure they raise and train the next generation. “Everyone within the pride knows exactly what they are superb at and what the goal of the pride is.” Thomas says when his organisation asks individual business people what they’re superb at and what the goal of their business is most don’t know and that’s a big problem. Admittedly the list of pressing tasks for a pride of lions is pretty slim which gives great clarity of purpose. That said identifying what we’re each best at, and outlining the joint goal of any team should be perfectly possible, then it’s the tricky bit – working together to achieve it. What struck me most was when Thomas talked about the power of communication between lions. “They didn’t need to constantly be communicated to,” said Thomas. “You don’t get one of the lions saying later, ‘I would have joined in the hunt but I didn’t get the memo about that, so I didn’t know I needed to’.” “If you want powerful teams you need powerful individuals that make it up. Just calling something a ‘team’ is not a magic answer, it doesn’t automatically make one.”
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