Last year I attended a meeting and one of the presentations contained this picture of a wolf pack, describing how a pack travels. The first 3 are the eldest and sick. They set the pace for the group so that no one is left behind. The next 5 are strong. They can defend the elderly and weak should an attack come at the front of the pack. Then the pack. Then the 5 strongest…defending the pack from the rear. Then the alpha. Leading from the rear, the alpha sees the entire pack and the environment. They can change direction and alert of danger as needed.
When learning of how a wolf pack travels, this reminded me of Management mentality. NOT leadership mentality.
Leaders must lead from the front – always. They have followers. In this respect, a Leader is often the CFO or Founder of the company. They have the vision and the direction. They simply lead for the future while the rest of the company makes sure the day to day occurs, the learnings from the past come forward, and execution of the Leaders vision is made manifest.
A wolf pack would NEVER survive if they travelled in this way.
Nor do Managers. Managers cannot lead from the front. At least not all the time. In fact, most of the time they manage their team from a place other than the front. Because the LEADER is already at the front…the Manager must be in a different position. The Manager is one of the Leader’s followers.
Managers that adopt wolf pack mentality have figured out some critical behaviours of successful managers.
1. They leave no one behind.
It doesn’t matter at which point in your career you are. It doesn’t matter how much experience you have. It doesn’t matter how much you need to learn. It doesn’t matter how quickly you adapt to change. Wolf pack mentality managers make sure that every member of their pack is moving forward. That’s the deal…everyone must be moving forward.
2. They couple new/learning employees with experienced/strong employees.
Collaboration is the best way to leverage every member of a team. Partnering learning and strong employees together brings the collective strength of the team ‘up’, faster. This also leverages the strengths of those who want to succeed into management roles without having a title. This teaches pack mentality to new employees – ‘We work together as a unit; if one fails, we all fail. If one succeeds, we all succeed.’
3. They work together as a team, each person knowing their role, contribution, impact.
Every person understands the individual part they play of the whole and why their role is important. Wolf pack management mentality also alters this role as experience grows. The entire team understands their contribution and impact so that they can rise to every occasion. They also know what is ahead of them that they are striving for and why achieving those goals is important to the whole. It’s always about the whole. Managers who have individual employees that are not team players let those players go quickly for the benefit of the team. No one person is more important that the whole. Not even the manager.
4. They operate in the background, absorbing all the responsibility when things go wrong, and giving all the recognition when things go right.
Managers are the ladder that their employees climb to achieve their goals. Therefore, it is necessary for wolf pack manager mentality to get comfortable with being a shield for their employees; buffering from any backlash that occurs from upper management. The manager takes the heat for everything and everyone.
And when the team turns out great work…the manager steps aside. They have on hand, a laundry list of each person and their contributions, giving all the praise and recognition to the team.
To have wolf pack manager mentality, emotional intelligence must be highly developed and balanced. It must be demonstrated at an extraordinary level across all 5 realms and 15 sub-scales. Let’s look at some key sub-scales to wolf pack management mentality.
ASSERTIVENESS – communicating feelings, beliefs and thoughts openly, and defending personal rights and values in a socially acceptable, non-offensive, and non-destructive manner.
…relates to and balances with…
PROBLEM SOLVING – the ability to find solutions to problems in situations where emotions are involved; the ability to understand how emotions impact decision making.
…relates to and balances with…
INTERPERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS – the skill of developing and maintaining mutually satisfying relationships that are characterized by trust and compassion.
…relates to and balances with…
Why look at the related emotional intelligence skills? Because emotional intelligence skills as work together for high EQ. Just like IQ. You can’t just know about math for your IQ score to be high. You need an aptitude for learning all things. EQ is the same.
Let’s take a closer look at balancing.
If ASSERTIVENESS is highly developed and skilled, and EMPATHY is not, this will come across as aggressive or passive aggressive. A lack of empathy (appreciating how other people feel) when communicating my own feelings looks like I don’t care about the other person. From their perspective this comes across as aggressive (forcing my feelings, opinions, beliefs while ignoring theirs) or passive aggressive (slighting their beliefs, opinions, and feelings).
If EMPATHY is highly developed and skilled, and EMOTIONAL SELF-AWARENESS is not, this shows up as mis-reading someone’s emotions. A lack of emotional self-awareness (knowing the subtleties and causes of your emotions) when interacting with someone who is experiencing an emotion, will result in my mis-reading their emotional state, labelling their embarrassment as frustration, and instead of demonstrating an understanding of their emotions and bringing us closer together, I drive a larger wedge between our interaction.
Managers with wolf pack mentality must have highly developed and balanced demonstration of all the emotional intelligence skills (there are 15 of them), and perhaps, most importantly the 3 skills of ASSERTIVENESS, PROBLEM SOLVING, and INTERPERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS.
In essence this trifecta represents a manager that is capable of communicating feelings, beliefs, and thoughts openly and defending personal rights and values in a way that is non-offensive and non-destructive, so that they are able to find solutions to problems in situations where emotions are involved and can avoid such emotions impacting the decision making process, so that they can develop and maintain mutually satisfying relationships characterized by trust and compassion.
That’s an alpha we’d all like to work with and for.