Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Team Building: Learn To Lead Like A Lion

By Barbara Edie

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if you or your business is looking to roar in to the new year with new focus and new strength, Ian Thomas, an animal tracker and business strategist from South Africa, has a great model for you. Thomas talks about "The Power of the Pride" and how businesses can build teams that thrive by observing the most powerful group in the jungle - a pride of lions.

Close up of a lion In the African bush and the business jungle, everyone loves the idea of eating their competitors.

Powerful teams are built by powerful individuals.

Lions choose to hunt together. Prides work because everyone has a "specialty" and knows what they're superb at. Lionesses do most or all of the hunting because they're fast, camouflaged and designed to hunt; males must protect the lionesses and hold the territory.

What are you superb at?

Thomas says when he asks business people that question, most of them panic. Very few are prepared to state it on paper. Some just don't know their strengths, and others are unclear.

Does every team member know and understand the final goal?

If you are hunting big game, you must all focus on the same target.

Lions know what the goal is and focus on one goal. If a lioness is going to take down and 750-kilogram bull buffalo, every lion on the team must be there to support her. If even one or two lions are unclear and uncommitted the result can be failure... death or starvation.

In his work with business teams, Thomas says, on average, 40% of people do not write down the same goal. In other words, out of every 10, four people are doing something else. And in some cases, Thomas has seen whole teams that don't know what they are trying to do.

In the animal kingdom - and business world - trust is essential.

The only reason a lioness is prepared to attack, and risk injury in hunting a huge target is because she knows the other six are coming in hard and fast to back her up, says Thomas. She has 100% trust her team is coming to help her.

Trust is huge, and if breached can destroy individuals... and the entire pride.

Out in the jungle, you have to trust each other, look after each other, and get over your ego or any self-serving attitude.

Trust is also the least understood. Trust is about knowing that if the team is focused, clear and each superb at her job, the team will 'make the kill'... everyone will eat, everyone will be healthy, and it will allow everyone to get more of what they want.

As soon as you do not buy into that goal, you become untrustworthy. And if team members don't even know what the goal is, you've got no chance.

In the business jungle trust is equally critical.

You must know who your customers are, know exactly what they want from you, and be able to deliver the goods. And in joint ventures, partners must be confident in the other person's ability.

Conflict or change can be healthy when it allows you to create powerful individuals who can lead a trustworthy team. Many of us fear the potential in someone else's abilities. However, if we can learn to work with people's strengths, and not against them, the results are magnificent.

The more powerful your team, the stronger you are to ensure a great future.

Lionesses know the importance of nurturing, protecting and teaching the cubs. They need these potential sprinters to protect the future strength of the pride.

The male lion king also knows his place on the team. He is a great tactical fighter but without his lionesses hunting for him, he is weak, hungry and, ultimately, dead. He secures the territory for the lionesses to hunt and raise strong cubs. The lion king and lionesses are a team with different skills but they back each other up... 100%.

Imagine if you could create that kind of trust and respect in your business, family or relationships!

To create this kind of power - in business, at home or in life - act like a lion pride:

1) Build strength in the individuals.

2) Focus clearly on what you are trying to do - as an individual, family or team.

3) Look to one another for communication and support.

4) Develop trust by knowing your goal, buying into it and delivering on it. If you are unable or unwilling to deliver, say so.

5) Be competent. Know your strengths.

6) Back one another up!

Here's to a prosperous new year of building stronger teams and businesses, with worthy targets.