Workplace blogs
Workplace blogs

The Leader as Guide: Lessons Learned While on an African Safari

I was recently on safari in South Africa and Botswana, and our aptly named guide Moses reminded me of a few key traits that truly inspiring leaders need to possess.

1. First and foremost, Moses was always concerned with our well being and safety.  (Sort of important when there could be a Black mamba snake or lion lurking around the next bush.)  Similarly, an inspiring leader must always actively demonstrate that they care about the safety and well being of their employees. This must trump everything else at work.  Trust can be easily shattered the moment employees sense that profits are more important than their well being.

2. Moses did an amazing job of pointing out how small details fit into the larger ecosystem. He had intricate knowledge of the most minute aspects of the wilderness, yet he always  told us how those small pieces of the puzzle came together to form a bigger picture of life on the African savannah.  Moses made the small relevant, showing us how seemingly unimportant details effected the bigger picture in the long term.  An inspiring leader understands that they need to take an ecosystem approach. That everything in the workplace is interconnected. They must also understand all the connections and make the links between sometimes small, seemingly insignificant details and the larger ecosystem of the workplace. They need to have the ability to stand back at times and see the jungle through the trees.

3.  Our amazing African guide Moses knew what to look for. By constantly listening and looking for subtle clues, Moses could tell the story of what had happened the night before.  By reading the smallest signs and looking for clues in the landscape, Moses was able to direct us in the right direction (including, on one occasion, to a fresh leopard kill). Inspiring leaders must do the same.  A great leader must constantly read the subtle signs to get a sense of what is truly going on in a workplace environment so that they can be out front and confidently guide us in the right direction.

Michael Kerr, 2013.  Michael Kerr is a funny motivational speaker, business speaker, and the author of five books.  For great ideas, inspiration and insights on building a better workplace, be sure to sign up for his raved about weekly e-zine Humor at Work. 



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