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Welcome to Merge's Monthly Mega Minute – a bite-sized, yet substantial and practical, nugget of information that you can use immediately to enhance your professional and personal success.

Lessons in teamwork from long-nosed bats

Long-nosed bats, endemic to Central America, have a unique approach to discouraging predators. They feed primarily at night, so during the day they roost in a number of places, one of which is the surface of tree trunks. However, most trees are usually out in the open, so in daylight, the little bats can become very tempting morsels to predatory birds. Enter teamwork. Before settling down for the day's nap, groups of eight to sixteen bats arrange themselves in a roughly vertical line, to take on the appearance of a long snake. When a hungry bird approaches hoping for a delicious delicacy, the bats' defence mechanism is to individually move back and forth within the vertical formation to create the combined effect of a large snake about to strike. The cautious bird, vigilant of poisonous snake venom, flies off to find easier prey. Brilliant!

So what are the lessons here for leaders? I see at least three. One, there is strength in numbers. Teams are more powerful than individuals. One bat would likely not survive, but eight to sixteen collectively have much greater chance of success. Two, when individuals work cooperatively, they can accomplish more than they can alone. There is synergy in teams — the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. One bat could not create the illusion of a poisonous snake, but a small colony sure can fake it! And three, enemies are less likely to attack a team rather than an individual; they would much rather focus on easier targets. A small colony of bats is much more formidable to a predatory bird than is a single lone orphan bat.

Do you see other lessons? What else can we learn about teamwork from long-nosed bats? Please share online on my blog at:

Joyful greetings for the holiday season and our best wishes for the new year!

Our very best wishes to you and yours for a joyful holiday season and a fantastic 2016. Our offices will be closing for an extended holiday break on December 11 until the new year. We won't be answering our phones, but we will check email periodically, should you need to contact us over the holidays. We'll be back in January 2016!

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