Merge's Blog

Leadership lessons from ants!

As regular readers of the blog know, I am continually inspired by the lessons in leadership that come to us from the animal kingdom.  In the past, I’ve written about bald eagles, sea otters, goldfish, and penguins, among many others.  Today’s leadership lessons come to us from ants!

Ants don’t admit defeat

Have you ever watched an ant carry what appears to be a gargantuan load?  Science indicates that ants can actually carry ten to fifteen times their body weight.  And they do – repeatedly – in order to provide for themselves and their nestmates.  Which got me thinking … if ants aren’t daunted by the sheer magnitude of what they sometimes have to carry, is there a lesson there for us as leaders?

In the workplace, we are often faced with what seem to be insurmountable obstacles in our leadership roles – looming deadlines, challenging employees, missed opportunities, apparently unattainable targets – which could, if we let them, cause us to give up and admit defeat.  But perhaps we could learn from ants who take on seemingly impossible tasks and make them possible.

Ants value teamwork

Ants recognize the value of teamwork.  If you watch carefully, you will see that when the other ants see a single ant carrying a heavy load, they step in and shoulder some of the weight.  They know that they can achieve much more by working with each other.

I see two specific lessons here for those in leadership roles.  One, as leaders, it is up to us to pay attention to whether any of our employees are carrying a heavier than usual workload.  And two, when that occurs, we need to step in and initially shoulder some of the weight, thus becoming positive role models for the behaviour we expect from the rest of the team.

So at first glance, these are my two leadership lessons from ants.  But what do you have to add to the list?  What is your leadership lesson?  Please share your thoughts by commenting below.

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