I had the privilege to attend a presentation of Ian Thomas, well-known international speaker, tracker and author.
Ian has studied lions at close quarters for more than thirty years. He has a unique understanding of how lions raise such potent individuals and then combine them into incredibly powerful teams or prides.
This is a skill that people and particularly business people would like to have.
The study of lions in the wild has involved Ian in far more than the gathering of biological data. Discussions with business men and women while viewing lions has made him aware of the social interaction, hunting techniques and defence strategies among individual lions with vastly different personalities, strengths and weaknesses. In his keynote address, The Power of the Pride, Ian presents some fundamentals of team work towards achieving success:
Build a strong team, with strong individuals.
It is often said that a team is as strong as its weakest link. How true? Time spent on defining talent and skills required as well as finding the right talent and skill, will be always be greatly rewarded. ActionCOACH’s recruitment process is based on deselection instead of a one-sided approach to a selection. The best individual for a position ‘shows’ her/himself in process of comparison, showing and presenting on core skills and attitude.
Laser sharp focus on a common goal.
In Ian Thomas’s words, ‘your focus becomes your reality’. In nature the pack of lionesses identifies a prey and then every individual becomes completely focussed on the ‘task at hand’, no distractions. Leading a successful team in business starts with clarity and focus on a well-defined vision of the future.
“Leadership is having a compelling vision, a comprehensive plan, relentless implementation, and a talented people working together” – Alan Mulally.
Effective communication elicits effective responses.
The survival of the pride therefore depends on their success as a team to hunt and kill.
During a hunt, every individual lioness is acutely aware of her surroundings, the position of the others, signals from the others, etc. Similar to teams in an organization, effective communication should be a priority – access to real, updated information, daily feedback and review, decisive action, etc.
Smaller teams operate (‘hunt’) more effective.
The size of a team needs to be determined by the required talent and skill. This allows a shorter time to respond and act on opportunities presented.
100% trust amongst team members, a non-negotiable.
“A team is not a group of people that work together. It is a group of people that trust one another” – Simon Sinek.
Trust has become absolutely vital to the success of a team. How is trust build? Honest, open communication, the willingness of individuals to be open and vulnerable, mutual respect, commitment to the team, maturity in behaviour, etc.
‘I screwed up’, ‘I need help’, ‘Your idea is better than mine’, ‘I wish I could learn to do that as well as you do’ and even ‘I am sorry’!
Trust and skill go hand-in-hand.
In a trusting environment, teams seeks skill and solutions by asking questions, being inquisitive and discussing alternatives to a best design a way forward.
Identify, develop and nurture potential future leaders.
Don't expect leaders to emerge without guidance. Many business owners assume that their next partners, leaders will simply appear, ready to lead. Focus on identifying and developing future leaders. Create a work culture and environment which attracts young talent.
Apply the right skill to achieve success.
High levels of end-to-end accountability, self-directed teams with less to no lines, ‘boxes’ becomes important.
Achieving success takes courage.
As per the definition of courage, (mettle, spirit, resolution, tenacity) it means the mental or moral strength to resist opposition, danger, or hardship. It implies the firmness of mind and will in the face of danger or extreme difficulty. To succeed in leadership and business calls for courage and resilience – a grittiness to hold on ‘no matter what’.
“Not finance. Not strategy. Not technology. It is teamwork that remains the ultimate competitive advantage, both because it is so powerful and so rare.” – Patrick Lencioni