This is all about the way ants live and how their living relates to teams, teamwork and Leadership Development. It’s one thing acquiring knowledge and another thing getting wisdom. Little by little (kadan kadan as said in Hausa) ants meet their targets. They sing their famous song, just a little help. Every ant believes it lives because other ants are living. This is the scheme of the ants, I call it teamwork.
“Enter places others have no courage to go to.”
They need no King. All the same, however, they have one. Because Leadership is critical to every group. Ants believe in Leadership in Teamwork. Without the team the leader will fail, the ants believe so. This is because every leader needs followers. Their style of living gives a simple definition to Leadership. Leadership in one word could be defined as followership. And so they share tasks equally and execute wholly. The whole is bigger, if not greater than the sum of all the parts. Ants show attitude and not necessarily competence. Dicey, huh?
A team with a good attitude will not necessarily guarantee success but a team with a bad attitude surely guarantees failure – John C. Maxwell. Attitude is contagious if we care to know. In the land of the ants they follow a lead with all seriousness. The ants are always led. They follow instructions and they follow the cue together. They bond. They have a strategy and they commit to it. They delegate responsibilities, respect structures and chain of command to get jobs done. This is fundamentally the reason why we always see ants in straight lines marching towards a goal. Division of labour and delegation are key to their way of life. Yet they know that delegation doesn’t mean abdication. Their leaders always go back to check after tasks are executed.
It is crucial to note that togetherness shall surely take a team there. There is no need backstabbing each other, doing people in and pulling people down. People who do others in, to get to the top, are not competent. They are not wise as the ant. They are crabs. I am blessed to have worked with a lot of crabs and I know it when I see one. In the scheme of the ants crabs are misfits. This is because there is no’I’ in Teamwork. There are various types of ants. But generally their lifestyles are that: they open every door no matter how tight. They believe that doors are shut and closed but not locked. The ants squeeze to get in. Learn to knock at doors. They may only be closed not locked. This is a skill for everyone, especially for Business development Teams. Don’t accept it, when doors are closed. You need to find a way to get the deal no matter what it takes. What are the other options? What are the other alternatives? Who are the other stakeholders to the deal etc?
Now, this is it. Ants don’t sleep. I am yet to see a sleeping ant. It is a must-have quality as you build yourself towards leadership development. The ant is always working and also on the move. I am not asking you not to sleep but look at it this way. It is healthy for a man to sleep at least eight hours per day, Doctor’s advice. Therefore the ratio of sleep to being awake is one is to three, mathematically. So if you are thirty years, you may perhaps have slept for 10years, all things being equal. If you like your achievements so far, then keep on sleeping. But ask yourself the questions always being asked by the ants, have I done much with my life and have I gained more as I’ve been awake? If the answer is no then you have to be awake more, in order to push the ratio to your objectives. May be, instead of sleeping for eight hours, try six hours and check your productivity thereafter. I have a personal philosophy, why should I be sleeping if I can be awake? Until I see a sleeping ant, I can’t change this personal philosophy. But I bet on my last coin, that you won’t find one anyway. You will also not find an ant marching backwards. At best they slide to the sides. Keep on pushing forward. Keep on marching forward. Ants fall over. But they fall forward. So move marching falling forward and continue your journey towards leadership development. You may fall but at least, you moved.
The point is, you miss a lot when you sleep more. You catch a lot when you spend more hours being awake. May be when we were much younger, we needed our sleep for effective brain development. I am not sure you need same hours of sleep unless you are under a condition. Ants won’t sleep. Because they believe that they don’t have to, especially when there is a task at hand. They are the definition of work. Ants are always thinking. The Holy Scriptures, in Proverbs Chapter number 6, confirms some beautiful habits of the ant. Just learn to be hardworking. Some say don’t work hard, work smart. The ant say work hard and work smart. Who’s got the competitive advantage? I go the ant’s way.
Think of the ant and acquire the secret to working in teams. Synergy. They are strong twice their might when they work in teams. They build their fortresses and marshal great attacks as a team. They know all days are not the same, so they save for the droughts. Ants are very objective. They never cry during droughts, because they have buffer. They won’t go looking to the west for the sunrise. They think through issues before they act. When they act, they fight till the end. They are very tenacious and they don’t mind dying to succeed. Have you ever witnessed a’dying’ ant on a biting mission? It really bites with its last might. They don’t give up easily and they die on duty. That’s the mark of passion. They live and die as heroes. Leaders need this.
No matter how big the task, ants are very small but they are never scared. They enter places others have no courage to go. They do the things others are scared to do, and they achieve the things others cannot achieve. Their strength is in their teams and they are ready to die a little for each other. Ants like to build. They hate to destroy. Read any material on building a’termitarium’; and you’ll like the termites. Examine the size of the ant and you’ll notice that they build mountains and not anthills as we call them. They put life into nothing. Once again allow me to lean to Proverbs 6:6 in the Holy Scriptures, go to them, you lazy fellow. Ants live like they will die tomorrow but they plan like they will live forever. Don’t also sit in the office because you’ve met your targets. The droughts may come someday.
The first time I heard the story of the ants, was at church. And I’loved’ the sermon, three hundred and sixty degrees. The ant is a planner. The scheme of the ants always talks about working hard, working smart. Ants comfort zone and no place for the slothful in the land of the ants. Lazy ones have two options: to jump out or be pushed out. The danger is that, they mostly die together, because they’ve got each other’s back. It’s also a strength because ants are very loyal. As the eagle sees ahead, the ant thinks ahead and it reasons through life by making the most of today to save future generations.
If your parent wises up like the ants you won’t shed a tear when they pass on. And if your Line Manager had lived like the ant, you’ll rejoice with him when he moves on. This is because he always worked towards planting a legacy and a good succession plan. It’s an ant’s thing. It’s up to us to tap into them. Ants keep moving. Move. Just move and do something meaningful, reasonable and productive. Study the ant, when they meet borders on their path. They know nothing like impediments. They find a way. Learn to know that when one door closes many others open. They open their options.
Think of buffer and silos, and you will be rapt with the scheme of the ants. Both are their concepts. They can be crushed easily but they die hard. They know when they are about to die, which is why they also bite with their last might. Never say you cannot. You do not give up easily. That’s the ant. They believe life is a fight as they say and giving up is an option. Their leaders don’t quit so their followers don’t. Don’t quit on your way to leadership development whether you are leading or following. Their attitude brings to mind the famous Chinese proverb which says that never interrupt the person doing it, if you think it can never be done. The ants finish tasks together and they need no interruption if you won’t get your hands on deck.
People will frustrate your efforts. Some will deliberately intend to do you in. But it won’t budge because you are an ant. The ant is never frustrated and because it focuses on the needful, it is always successful. Have you seen the leader ant and its army going after a target? They climb on top of each other. It is just like carrying your fellow colleague on your back, to go after a certain target. It is not an easy’task’. That is what teams in good companies do to succeed. Watching each other’s back rather than the infighting, backbiting, doing people in and wishing people fail. Keep our eyes on the prize and focus on the goal. Keep your eyes on the ball even as you watch it roll.
I have learnt a lot. Experience has taught me to believe that people who do people in are incompetent, cowards, liars, brown-tongues and people who cannot compete with the brain so they cause a lot of pain to others. But there’s good news for victims. Don’t fight back. Go through it. It’s just a mill. Concentrate on the job not the sob. Keep an eye on the ball and not the fall because after every pain there is victory. Don’t quit when crabs do you in. They are just crabs. You are an ant. Be wise. Those who are intimidated by you, will surely talk evil about you just so others won’t find you genial. People will do you in because you are better than them. Fact. Focus on the job. Be wise. Be an ant.
For this is Leadership!
Author: Richard Kwarteng Ahenkorah
Principal Trainer, Eagle Knowledge Institute || Author: Your Journey To The Top