You Wouldn’t Ask a Lion To Build You a Dam

Did you know that lions can run 50 mph? Or that they have a jaw strength of 650 psi and that their roar can be heard 5 miles away? Incredible creatures, and with stats like that, they certainly earn the title of “King of the Jungle”. However, you wouldn’t want a lion to build a dam for you. You’d be looking for a beaver for that job.

Traits you need for the job, and the beaver happens to have them, are the things like webbed feet, the ability to stay underwater for 15 minutes at a time, teeth designed to chew wood, and transparent eyelids for seeing underwater. Those are perfectly suited for the task of dam building.

So the question is….are you asking any “lions” on your team to build dams or having any “beavers” hunt for dinner?

This is a question you need to ask yourself as a leader and you likely should keep asking it, because, unlike Lions and Beavers, people are much more dynamic.

In my experience as a leader, I have found it immensely valuable to know the wiring of those on my team. You can do this in any number of ways. Through their DISC profile or StrengthsFinder, just to name two of a million out there. Although some are better than others, there is not one magic one. The assessment is not the end goal, understanding your team is.

You need to know your team so that you can understand how to talk to them effectively, how to structure their environment, their duties, and processes in order to maximize their fulfillment and in turn their effectiveness. Because when people (you the leader included) are operating in their strengths they are the happiest and the most effective.

When people are forced into situations outside their strengths or communicated to in ways counter to their wiring, they tend to shut down. By "shut down" I mean that they are disengaged, unhappy, and generally pull others down with them through negative attitude and sub-par work. No one is happy in that scenario.

Know yourself. Know your people. It is your responsibility as a leader.

What about you? How have you benefitted from knowing your team? Got a story to share? Pop it in the comments so that we can learn together.

Teams also need to get away and have time to think together and reflect together. Be able to spend just an hour to be curious about each other. -Denise Van Eck, Owner of Thought Design

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