Learning Leadership Through Nature: The Wolf Pack

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Credit: The Odyssey Credit: The Odyssey

One thing I’ve been trying to get better at in my personal life is leadership. So I thought I would try to learn a page of leadership through nature. My all time favorite animal are wolves. I find their complex so interesting, and this idea came through a post I saw on Facebook. There was a photo that went around about a wolf pack walking through Wood Buffalo National Park. Apparently this photo has been around since 2011, and the post has been around since 2015. But it’s still something really interesting that we can all learn something from it for leadership.

I work in a call center for health care services from rural clinics to hospitals around the world, but mainly located in the United States. Prior to that I was a team manager at Staples and I’m heading in a similar direction at the call center. Moving up to the lead of support within the next month or so. So I’ve been trying to improve my leadership skills to effectively tackle that position. And I think it’s always a good thing to try improving yourself and getting better in different skill sets. Another thing is our CEO also loves the wolf pack mentality, so I thought the two ideas played together nicely. Mae tries to improve herself through taking a page through nature for work and work likes the wolf pack approach. I might do a few posts like these, but let me know your thoughts as this is not typically something I blog about. But it’s something I really wanted to write about after seeing the Facebook post plus everything going on at work as I step into/towards that new position.

Now the original Facebook post I read was incorrect in it’s information but I still love it’s message. Here is that message:

“A wolf pack: the first 3 are the old or sick, they give the pace to the entire pack. If it was the other way round, they would be left behind, losing contact with the pack. In case of an ambush they would be sacrificed. Then come 5 strong ones, the front line. In the center are the rest of the pack members, then the 5 strongest following. Last is alone, the alpha. He controls everything from the rear. In that position he can see everything, decide the direction. He sees all of the pack. The pack moves according to the elders pace and help each other, watch each other.”

Credit: Chadden Hunter/BBC NHU Credit: Chadden Hunter/BBC NHU

Here is the correct information on what was actually occurring in the photo:

“A massive pack of 25 timberwolves hunting bison on the Arctic circle in northern Canada. In mid-winter in Wood Buffalo National Park temperatures hover around -40C. The wolf pack, led by the alpha female, travel single-file through the deep snow to save energy. The size of the pack is a sign of how rich their prey base is during winter when the bison are more restricted by poor feeding and deep snow. The wolf packs in this National Park are the only wolves in the world that specialise in hunting bison ten times their size. They have grown to be the largest and most powerful wolves on earth.”

— BBC Frozen Planet

Alpha is actually just a term for the breeding members of the pack, not the “leader” of the pack. It’s a common misconception about wolves. Due to misinformation going rampant through the science community and into the media they latched onto that concept. But when it was corrected by animal behavioral scientists, society didn’t latch onto it like they did with the other. So it’s still seen by many today that the Alpha wolf is the leader when they actually are not.

So misconception out of the way, let’s just focus on the “misconception” idea for a moment just as we can still learn a thing or two from the Facebook post.

If you are the leader of the group, you shouldn’t try to make everything all about us by making ourselves the main focus. A good leader relies on it’s team members to work as a group to accomplish the goals. And watching out for their backs to make sure they are being taken care of while at the same time getting to the destination. Because from the back or the near you can see the whole picture, and ensure the best choice of action is being chosen. From this vantage point they can communicate efficiently to the group and can keep in check the group’s strengths/weaknesses.

Have any tips on being a good leader? Let us know in the comments! I would love any and all tips.

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