Running with the wolves
Wolves are majestic animals and lately I have seen many quotes and many images about them. The photo that intrigued me most though was one showing a pack of wolves walking through a snowy path somewhere in the woods. It wasn’t the photo itself that made me stop and take a deep breath but the formation of the pack. The way those wolves were aligned, I found that it was not just clever, it was amazing. I have to be honest, at first, I thought to myself, why aren’t they all together. I mean they are a team; a wolf pack and packs go together with perhaps, everyone walking next to one another. But not this pack and as I made research nor did any other pack.
On the photo above, you can clearly see that in the front there are three wolves who seem more mature than the others. Those wolves are placed there for a very specific reason. They are the elders in the pack. They may be slower and weaker than the others but they are right there in the front line to scout and recognize through their wisdom and experiences if the ground is safe or if any danger is approaching.
But what happens in case the pack is attacked? The elders of the pack will not be able to defend the pack on their own. Well, the elders have right behind them four or five of the strongest wolves who are the warriors. They are the ones who have matured enough and they know how to fight while protecting and guiding what is right behind them. The young ones, the cubs, the females, the rookies. So, from either side they get hit, they will be ready.
As for the ones at the very back of the pack, those four wolves who may look left behind, well they are big and strong because their purpose is to serve the pack, having eyes and staying vigilant for the danger or the obstacle which may appear out of nowhere while learning and protecting someone very important. Their leader.
That’s right, their leader, who is at the far end. The last wolf is the leader of the pack. He holds this position because he can see far and close, not only around the pack but what is also happening within his pack. He observes, he commands, he guides and he takes action where needed. He is the one who advises and makes sure no one stays behind. He keeps the pack unified and on the same path. He is always ready to run in any direction to protect and serve as the ‘bodyguard’ to the entire group. Everyone, is under the vigilant eyes of the leader and his trusted team who observe from the back as they are leading the wolf pack forward, making sure that those in the middle have the chance to grow and evolve into great wolves thus making the wolf pack stronger and bigger.
In a similar way we could say that big organizations and companies could use this example to create their hierarchy and run their operations, if they have a vision of ‘running with the wolves’ and playing the big game out there.
Like in business, the elder wolves who are perhaps the honorary members of the board of an organization, they have been there and they have seen it all. They can predict and ‘smell’ danger from miles apart, which makes them proactive. They are the ones who keep the feeling of stability in any wolf pack or in any organization. When you have a problem, you usually go to them and they will pleasantly guide you by sharing personal stories and experiences. These people are important for your ‘pack’ and that is why you should utilize them in the best possible way instead of rushing to fire them because they got old.
Many are the times when a young member of middle management – the young wolves in the middle of the pack – has an idea, but before sharing it with the senior management asks for advice from the ‘elders’ to make sure he is on the right path. Perhaps he just needs that pad on the shoulder to gain more confidence before that important presentation. That is why the role of the senior management is so important. They are not there to stand by the leader only. They are there for much more.
Senior management who may be characterized as the strongest wolves at the front and at the back of the pack, looking at that picture, are there to serve as a bridge between the middle management and their leader. They are the connection between the past and the future and they are the ones who have the difficult task of protecting those in the middle while training them, helping them to evolve so as to take their place which rightfully will belong to them one day. Nurturing the young ones, the ‘cubs’ and guiding them, you set the foundations for the future. Teaching them to respect the elders, to follow orders, to be the best in what they do and above all work together while having each other’s back is of essence.
The last man standing every night though, when the lights at the office are off, is the leader. He may be at the very end but he acknowledges everything that is happening and inspires others to know better, be better and do better every single day. It may seem and it truly is a lonely path sometimes; the path of leadership; but looking forward with everyone in line ahead, working together for their vision, a true leader feels that he actually did something right.
You see, leadership isn’t about being the most visible, the loudest, or even the highest earner. Leadership is truly about leading from behind. Real leaders are the ones who do not need a title flashing outside their office door but instead they want to share their success rather than bask in the glory. True leaders are those who when things go wrong, take ownership and take the fall to ensure their team is taken care of like a real wolf leader would do without hesitating to attack and protect his pack.
The way these wolves have created their formation and keep it that way all these years, can help us humans to better understand and create the hierarchy in our organisations so as to achieve more by appreciating every single one as a member in the team. Everyone has a job to do, from the person who cleans the toilets of our building every day to the CEO of the organization. What’s important, is to remember who we are at all times, the vision we serve and that at the end of the day we are all members of that same pack running with the wolves.
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