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26.05.2011 Feature Article

Pride of lion or herd of elephant leadership pattern in corporate

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Have you ever studied the social organization of various animals? Herd of elephants, pride lion, troop monkeys, pack hyena or wild dongs, swam of bees or flock of birds? etc. Who is leading the group or assumes to be the leader? How these leaders display his/her leadership style and how they remain as the 'leaders' of each group?

Let us see the pride of lion first. Usually a dominant/alpha male is the leader of this group. None can challenge the strength the alpha male. The physical strength and aggression of the alpha male is what the determining factor of his dominance. The protection and security enjoyed by other members of the pride at the behest of the alpha lion is what keeps the pride together. But the leadership of the alpha male is always under threat. During breeding season, the dominant male lions from other pride challenge the leadership domain and some time may win also. Once it wins, the new one takes control of the entire pride.

To establish its authority, the new 'chief' annihilates all the cubs in pride in order to push the females to heat cycle so that he can have his mating. Leadership of the dominant lion in a pride is not stable and inspirational. Mere physical strength is what defines the dominance. Corollary to this, some leaders in corporate behave exactly the same way as the new lion chief of the pride. They terminate the service of most of the existing employees, declaring them to be useless and archaic. When one corporate is taken over by other, this situation becomes most inevitable.

In the case of an elephant herd, the matured and elderly female is the head. The headship is less challenged, the constant guidance and inspiration is the key determining factor of her dominance in the herd. When the matriarchal head looses its head to old age, the next aged one is unanimously selected as the team head. The survival of the entire herd is depending on the experienced guidance of the aged female. The aged female elephant never act like a boss but always will have solutions to the problems of the herd. This is how the leadership development should in corporate.

In the case of bees, the queen (leader) remains only for the purpose of procreation. Different bees are entrusted with different responsibilities. There is no conflict in the division of labor. Highly organized and very systematic. When the queen dies, a new queen is developed by rest of the members. In the swarm of bees, only one queen is entertained. If the division of labor is well defined, this type of hierarchy may go well for corporate.

The inspiration, guidance and protection should be the ingredient for leadership development in corporate and these aspects should dominantly be reflected in 'corporate leaders'. It is not assigning the responsibilities well to the employees is what makes a 'good leader', leading the team from beginning to the end is what needed.

S. Ranganathan, Dr.
S. Ranganathan, Dr., © 2011

Dr.S RanganathanColumn: SRanganathan

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