Leadership In Nature - The Wolf Pack

There was a viral story that has been making its way around the Internet the last couple of years talking about leadership and wolf pack behavior. Here it is if you haven't seen it:

A wolf pack: the first 3 are the old or sick, they give the pace to the entire pack. If it was the other way round, they would be left behind, losing contact with the pack. In case of an ambush they would be sacrificed. Then come 5 strong ones, the front line. In the center are the rest of the pack members, then the 5 strongest following. Last is alone, the alpha. He controls everything from the rear. In that position he can see everything, decide the direction. He sees all of the pack. The pack moves according to the elders pace and help each other, watch each other.
I loved the story and thought it was a great analogy to tie to any team. Of course, like many things on the Internet, stories can be embellished. Just a little research from experts in wolf back behavior and the story unravels. If you read any of what I would consider true studies of wolf behavior the whole idea of an "alpha" in the pack is false. It turns out that it is usually more of a parent in a dominant position over its offspring and a pack is two or three litters of pups at various stages of maturity.

We can still learn something from wolves. They have to hunt to survive and are able to take down prey that is much larger than them because of how they are able to work together. They act as a team in traveling and protecting each other, they realize they are stronger together than they are alone. They are also great communicators - body language, growls, barks and howls work together so they know what each other are thinking and makes them much more effective. Going back to the photo above, the idea that I continued to find on the actual behavior happening was that the lead wolf is one of the strongest and they are cutting a path in the snow so the others have an easier time as they travel. The picture can still be a powerful lesson in leadership, carving out a path for others to follow, taking the burden on yourself to make it easier for those that come after you.

Maybe the most important lesson is that we as humans often think we are far superior to any other creature on this planet, but that often isn't the case. Natural behavior that God created in all animals gives us things that we can learn. If the stories we tell ourselves make us better leaders and teammates, I am okay with the facts getting a little skewed. At the end of the day I just hope I am on a team that acts like a pack of wolves rather than one that acts like a scared herd of individuals just hoping they aren't the one that gets picked off.


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