Leadership? Ask the Ants! (7)

Everyone seems to know a thing or two about leadership. At least so it appears when you listen to people argue on the subject. Even those who don’t consider themselves as authorities on how to lead still blame every adverse situation in their countries, organizations or families on leadership failure. A search for the word “leadership” on Google returns over seven-hundred million entries! Unfortunately, it appears that the more we know, the less we do.

According to John Maxwell, “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way”. You won’t believe how true this quote is among ants! Here are some outstanding leadership lessons from the ants:

  1. Leaders Find Opportunities: when a scout ant finds a good supply of food, it returns to the colony with some of it to recruit other ants. The quality of the food determines other ants’ willingness to follow. Followership is earned, not forced. Leaders represent the ideals we cherish, our hope to flourish and the future we long to relish.
  2. Leaders Create Road-maps: clarity of focus is one of the most important attribute of leaders. It is not enough for a leader achieve success; he or she should be able show others how to do same. Not only do scout ants find opportunities, they know exactly how to reach them. They lay chemical trails from the food and the strong scent guides them back to the food. Leadership is about having a clear vision, direction and motivation.
  3. Leaders make followers independent and not reliant: some leaders ensure that their followers don’t have enough information to become independent. Some only use their followers to achieve their selfish goals while making vain promises. As for ants, even if the scout ant that recruited others is killed while getting the food, the chemical trail laid is strong enough to ensure that the mission is not aborted. A leader must raise assets and not liabilities. Assets relieve the burden of leadership but liabilities create the burdens.
  4. The best idea leads: ants don’t have leaders in the manner humans do. Whoever finds an opportunity leads others back to it. Hence, everyone plays an active role in leading. Ants never care about shapes, sizes, gender or colour. They simply follow whoever knows the way. To achieve leadership goals, sentiments must be eliminated. May the best idea lead!