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Lesson 3: Hunting to your strengths

It is interesting that most cat species live a fundamentally solitary existence. Lions are the exception as they have developed a social system based on teamwork and a division of labour in the pride. A pride normally consists of a group of closely related females and one or a group of pride males. The females do 80-90% of the pride’s hunting, while the males patrol the territory and protect the pride from enemies such as hyenas and other intruders.
Renowned for their majesty and nicknamed "the king of the jungle," the lion possesses both beauty and strength. Yet they are not the ultimate predator…They cannot run as fast as springbok and cheetahs. They do not have the endurance of hunting dogs. They are not as big and powerful as tigers...they are not the top in each division but good enough to rely on strengths such as bite power, claws, aggression and muscle power.

Lions may hunt at any hour, but they typically go after the larger pray at night. They hunt together to increase their success rate. Based on skill and experience they will fan out along a broad front or a semi-circle to get close to their prey. Once within striking distance they bound in among the startled animals often with a specific focus on one individual. Some lionesses ("wings") will circle prey while others (" centres ") wait for prey to move towards them. Those lionesses that occupied "wing" stalking roles frequently initiate an attack on the prey, while lionesses in "centre" roles move relatively small distances and most often captured prey in flight from other lionesses. Each lioness in a given pride will repeatedly occupy the same position in a hunting formation. Hunts where most lionesses occupy their preferred positions have a high probability of success.

This means that different individuals have different roles allocated and there is a real sense of role clarity. The size of the pride as well as the species hunted also contribute to a level of specialisation among the different individuals in the pride.

There is a strong causal relationship between lion hunting behaviour and the vegetation of the territory. Research shows that there is significant differences in how males and females utilise vegetation structure. This explains why male lions use ambush behaviour to rival females’ hunting success. The influence of vegetation structure in shaping predator–prey interactions is often hypothesized but it is a reality. Lions pick a territory that compliments their strengths.
 Lions do hunt to their strengths.


Photo credit:  Neal Cooper (CNP Safaris)

Why strengths?

Think of yourself as a sailboat. Our weaknesses or development areas are the cracks and holes in the boat. Yes we should pay attention to repair them to ensure that we stay afloat. But only ensuring that we cover the cracks and holes doesn’t get us anywhere. Imagine the sails are our strengths. Paying attention to them is what gets us sailing and moving in the right direction. Unfortunately, most of us have little sense of our sails, our talents and strengths, much less the ability to build our lives around them. Instead, guided by our parents, by our teachers and by our managers we keep working at plugging the holes.

“We become experts in our weaknesses and spend our lives trying to develop these “flaws”, while our talents and strengths lie dormant and neglected” - Peter Drucker

Companies generally make 2 incorrect assumptions:
1. That a person can become competent at anything if they are trained properly; thus they spend a  lot of time training their workforce.
2. That the greatest areas of “opportunity” or growth are in an employee’s area of greatest weakness. Thus the individual development plan for an employee will often focus on these areas of weakness or work to minimize them.
Instead, we need to start to think about strengths and talents, that:
1. Each person’s talents are enduring and unique (i.e. they were born with them and will always have them)
2. Each person’s greatest room for growth is not in their “weaknesses” but rather in their area of greatest strength.

Photo credit:  Neal Cooper (CNP Safaris)

We need to consider that strengths, are multipliers… we are more creative and innovative in the areas of our strengths than in the areas of our weaknesses
Playing to strengths accelerates our development, we learn and grow faster in the areas of our strengths than in the areas of our weaknesses
Focusing on strengths is also a confidence builder. By definition you are bad at the things you are bad at. Things you are not good at is frustrating and saps your energy and confidence.
Just like lions that hunt we also need to “hunt” in a demanding and competitive marketplace.

Why would you want to handicap yourself?
  1. Start to discover your strengths or that of your team
  2. Analyze and discuss the results
  3. Set your sights on a territory that compliments your strengths. Remember in nature nothing survives where it does not belong.
  4. Identify opportunities to use your strengths.
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