Updated: Aug 21, 2022
During our recent Fireside Conversation, we were inspired by a Wild Dog Pack where the Alpha Female was giving birth to a new generation of pups -providing the ongoing survival of the pack. The rest of the pack, especially the Alpha male, were aware and attentive to the pain she was going through in this day-long process. An Alpha Female, the only breeder in a wild dog pack, can give birth to up to 25 pups!
We asked a couple of questions:
HOW DO YOU FORM BONDS WITH FAMILY, TEAM, OR ORGANISATION THAT FOSTERS CLOSENESS, CONNECTION, RELIABILITY & TRUST ESPECIALLY DURING TIMES OF CHALLENGE AND PAIN?
This question was based on our observation of how the Alpha male in particular, but the whole wild dog pack in general, were attentive to the pain of the alpha female who was giving birth.
Kate felt that bonds are built through being present.
I added, "And by noticing the detail, and by that, I mean what someone is feeling, what their body language is communicating; what helps in a challenging situation and what does not based on their personality - some people want nurturing and support, others need to be quiet, alone and focused."
I then told the participants on our Fireside Conversation of my observation of an Alpha female of a wild dog pack in captivity at Cango Wildlife Ranch & Conservation Centre just outside of Oudtshoorn, South Africa. I was able to observe the birthing process through a one-way mirror with fellow researchers.
She was in agony, chewing clods of earth. Interestingly, to me, the Alpha male was very attentive. He licked her ears and face when she was in pain, and when the ups were emerging he helped get them out. I believe her performance was enhanced and her experience soothed because he noticed the detail of what was going on for her and responded appropriately.
Stephen highlighted that bonds are built often on non-verbal behavior. Closeness and connection often come not so much by what you say, but by how we respond in a way that makes people feel like they have been heard and understood.
Our second question was:
2. WHO OR WHAT ARE THE PUPS THAT NEED TAKING CARE OF YEAR AFTER YEAR FOR THE WEALTH AND LONGEVITY OF YOUR PACK / FAMILY / ORGANIZATION / TEAM?
This focus was launched from the comment that the annual reproduction of pups in the wild dog pack is what ensues their survival.
Stephen launched a response believing that in organizations he had been a part of the 'pups' were the financial goals of the company. However, he felt that although the company needs money and results to continue to thrive and survive, focusing on money is not what makes working in the company a happy place, other factors also need to be nurtured like the well-being and inclusion of employees in goal setting, and how enjoyable the journey to success is.
Kate mentioned she preferred to use the word intent rather than goals, and raised a controversial issue of whether pursuing goals should be primary in order to win a competition or enjoying the game should come first.
Kate was asking this question after watching her daughter's recent hockey match. She continued, "There is often a tension between the feeling of success and achievement when goals are scored and an objective achieved, compared to the enjoyment of playing and contributing.~
Kate mentioned the concern that if achieving goals in a sorting competition is one's highest motivation, could the performance of individual team members, who conform to that intent, be compromised?
As an Ecopsychologist, I have had the privilege to observe African wild dogs, or Painted Hunting Dogs as I prefer to call them in many Zimbabwean and South African Game Reserves learning much from top ecologists and researchers, and the wild dogs themselves, I believe that organizations and sporting teams need to have a leadership enrich culture, which I find evident in wild dog packs.
This is where each individual, like a wild dog, knows their role and responsibility. Nobody should be constantly telling a team or organizational member what to do which will make them feel controlled and impotent. There should be trust built through bonding, as with the wild dogs. Leaders should leave their egos in their pockets. Wild dogs have many celebrated personal idiosyncracies and body painted patterns but they submit all this to the wellbeing of the pack.
In wild dog packs the pups and Alpha female feed first, they are exemplary that in teams and organizations that have longevity and achieve their goals, leaders develop other leaders. It does not matter who is doing what, what matters is that the objective is being achieved through equal contribution and participation of all the members.
Like a wild dog, everyone has a sense of value and a job to do. It does not matter who is the leader, if one team member is more expert in a particular area, or like a wild dog equipped to give birth like the Alpha female, or the wild dog nearest to the impala being hunted, then that person or wild dog does the job for the wellbeing of all.
In a leadership enriched organizational or team culture everyone is motivated and trusted to contribute to the chosen process or strategy and the goals are clearly understood. Goals, People, and Processes are an integrated ecosystem.
Overall Kate felt her biggest takeaway was the way we communicate through nonverbals, and she is reflecting on how much we can really harness the understanding and impact of that more to understand our own and others' behavior.
"The wild dogs’ sensitivity in their faces and ears is something I hope I always remember as it touched something deep inside me. We are so connected to all life on earth".
If you would like to participate in the next Fireside Conversation
on Wednesday 7th September 2022 at 5pm Uk time
the topic will be:
MOTIVATING YOUR INNER MEERKAT
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