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Exploit the lion tamer in you

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in Human Resources,Leaders & Managers

Sometimes, life’s lessons come from outside the box. A best-selling book offers clues to leaders who want to understand followers. The author bases the novel on actual biological principles behind zoo keeping and lion taming.

Here’s how the author describes it:
  • The lion most suited for circus training has the lowest social standing in the pride.You’ve heard the term “alpha male.”Well, this is the “omega animal.” It has the most to gain from a tight relationship with the super-alpha trainer who dominates it.

  • Omega animals, because they’re socially inferior, try the hardest to befriend and please their keepers. They’re the most faithful, most needy, most compliant, least difficult and least challenging.

  • This relationship isn’t just about perks. For the omega lion, it means protection from other members of the pride.

  • The omega lion—no different from the other lions in size or ferociousness in its audience’s eyes—is trained to become the show’s star, while the beta and gamma lions stay perched at ringside.

  • Those same patterns hold true for other circus and zoo animals, and are well-known in the trade: bison, deer, wild sheep and monkeys.
Bottom line: You don’t want a whole lot of omega animals hanging around your shop. But you do want to know them when you see them.

—Adapted from Life of Pi,Yann Martel, Harcourt Inc.

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