A Leadership Lesson, From an Ant

As I was sitting under the canopy of our camper enjoying the late summer day and reading a book.  Suddenly, the silence was shattered by one of my boys bursting out of the camper door, quickly eating jelly toast before jumping on his bike and tearing off.  In his haste, a large crumb of bread hit the ground.

Normally, this isn’t a big deal because my boys can be a little messy (or a lot messy).  But today, there were a number of ants busily moving about in the vicinity of the crumb.  Before I knew it, one ant found the bread.  Though they’re Superman strong, this piece was too big and couldn’t be moved.

After a matter of a minute, though, there were a number of ants and all together, they carried that bread to an undisclosed location somewhere under the electric box next to our camping spot.  Through one ant’s discovery and getting others to assist, they were able to score a large find.

Ants don’t have ears (Dear Formerly Biology Teacher, Yes, I do remember something from your class).  Instead of hearing, they pick up vibrations from the ground.  With the bread crumb, I imagine the ant vibrating “Hey Folks!  I have a huge piece of food here that can feed our families for a week but I need help getting it back to the nest.  Who’s with me!!”  The other ants can feel the excitement from the discoverer and came racing to help.

If you think about it, the discovering ant was a leader.  Since it can’t use words, it got others to feel excitement, to which they were happy to join.  If the lead ant would’ve had everyone else come over and said “Just kidding!” or had everyone else carry the load while it watched and gave criticism, others probably wouldn’t have come over in the first place.

Compare the ant to our human leaders.  Though we can talk and have ears, the truly best leaders invoke feelings inside that motivate others to follow.  They have a vision that others can follow.  They share in the burden of work and praise those who did the work to senior management.  Truly great leaders work with and through others to achieve outstanding results.

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