Eagle: Efficient Strategy and Big Hitshttp://body-corporate.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Bald-Eagle-Catch-01-1024x678.jpg 1024 678 Roddy Carter Roddy Carter http://2.gravatar.com/avatar/e3814b2c95ed99be8d223bd613e2d189?s=96&d=mm&r=g
Do you work with somebody that alternates between long periods of watching and quick bursts of activity? Do team members complain about their “laziness”? Yet, they always get the big stuff done. How do you best apply this personality on your team and in your organization?
We engage a wide range of personalities at work. As a manager, it is especially important to appreciate style diversity. At its worst, misalignment of style and expectations creates mutual misery. At its best, recognizing and blending diverse styles on a team and matching each with unique purpose optimizes performance (and happiness). Mother Nature provides us with two avian examples that may help us to appreciate the purpose of opposing styles. The eagle is a strategic intermittent feeder, known for big hits. The hummingbird is frenetically active, feeding and moving at great speed. Both are highly successful and occupy specific niches in the wild and at work. This article discusses the eagle; the sister blog explores the hummingbird. I hope they help you appreciate and engage your work colleagues better.
The eagle works slowly and carefully. They spend many hours waiting and watching, perched high on a mountain ledge or tall tree, or soaring effortlessly on outstretched wings. Their “eagle eyes” are powerful, and they can see up to 3.1 miles (5km). Once they identify a prey animal, they narrow their minds with exquisite focus on their target until they hit it. They convert relative inactivity into a powerful burst of activity, diving towards their prey at speeds up to 100 mph (160 km/h). They employ this speed for two reasons. First, it gives them the element of surprise as they burst out of nowhere into the world of the unsuspecting prey. Second, they can lift and carry heavier animals when they swoop and grab than if they land and grab, followed by a dead lift. Thus, they get more food at lower energy cost.
Eagles are well adapted to their lifestyle. They have massive wings and big pectoral muscles. Their feathers are strong and light, with thousands of tiny cross-hooks reaching between feathers, enhancing the overall wing structure. The leading edge of the wing and specialized wingtip feathers help the eagle to glide aerodynamically. They take advantage of thermals to help them soar to great heights. Their bones are hollow with reinforcement at critical stress points making them light and strong.
Eagles appear to function with less urgency than hummingbirds. Their energetics parallels this difference. They are more resilient, with longer energy stores, allowing them to go some time between meals. When they catch their prey, they gorge on it, filling their bellies and their fat stores. Unlike the massive, constant metabolic demand imposed by the hummingbird’s frenetic pace, the eagle’s leisurely watchfulness and efficient flight consume energy more slowly.
What is Mother Nature’s purpose in this beautiful, metabolically pulsed bird with its efficient modus operandi? Eagles live at the top of the food chain. Their strength and size enable them to make the “big hits”. Their predation prevents overpopulation with larger animals, protecting the environment from overuse.
What can we learn from Nature’s design? It’s simple. Your big-hitting colleagues can spearhead organizational impact. They favor strategic watchfulness, patiently trusting their keen vision. They efficiently select the juiciest of targets, conserving their energy and that of the organization around them. When they focus on their target, they are unwavering in pursuit. Line up your team to learn from them and follow them. After the kill, they need to feast. Remember that they are likely to retire to a favorite perch to digest their meal. Leave them be. They will be hungry again soon. Rather than pushing them to frequent action, give them space. Support their strategic efforts, and have the organization ready to follow them in the deep dive towards their target. These are probably the guys and girls you want in business development, patiently watching the market and swooping with deadly accuracy on a couple of big deals a year. You will feast with them!
(Roddy Carter is an executive consultant who uses nature to provide analogues for human organizational structure and function. Through the BioSimilar Programs he helps organizations select and learn from a species or environment that closely resembles their own circumstances. This is a fun way to build and implement strategy and to enhance performance. Please reach out through the connect tab at Body-Corporate.org if you’d like to explore a BioSimilar Program in your organization.)
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