Nature can be a unique Matchmaker. Baboons and Impalas may not seem to have much in common or much to offer each other, but they are actually a perfect fit. Baboons are innately hyper alert and their vision and ability to climb trees for a better vantage point make them ideal “watchmen.” Impalas stir up bugs and insects as they graze, making it much easier for baboons to gather meals. These two species are frequently seen grazing together because each provides a vital service to the other.
Likewise, antelopes live with oxpeckers, tiny birds that shriek to warn the antelope of danger in exchange for being able to feed on the insect larvae that cluster on the antelope skin.
The sea anemone rides on the back of the hermit crab, whose mobility brings food to the anemone while it’s stingers help protect the crab from predators.
Who would have ever thought that animals so different from one another could team up so effectively? Like these animals, people have many differences. But unlike the animals described here, people often allow differences to separate them from others. We all have a tendency to prefer similarities and those we work with, and we would rather avoid those who are different from us. Too few of us have caught on to the natural synergistic potential of capitalizing on symbiotic differences. Many of us tend to condemn others for their weaknesses instead of appreciating their strengths.
The antelope does not distrust the oxpecker, nor does the hermit crab resent carrying the full weight of the sea anemone. The baboon does not criticize the impala for having poor vision yet how often do we distrust people because they are different? Do we ever resent carrying the full weight of our boss, forgetting the benefits that come to us as a result? Do we tend to focus on differences as weaknesses instead of strengths?
Viewing people’s differences from us in a favorable light allows us to see significant and in the organizations that have it, one plus one equals three… or even more!
This post is part of our Leadership Lessons series featuring some of the lessons I collected in 52 Leadership Lessons: Timeless Stories for the Modern Leader. Get your personal copy here.
Enter your contact details below to receive our Monthly Newsletter, with our latest thought leadership, news and available offers.
Downtown Portland, Oregon
October 9 – 11
Receive complimentary access to an exclusive library of resources.