I love this picture! It personifies what situational leadership looks like. More than that, I love what this picture represents. You see, a zebra isn’t supposed to be chasing a lion. At least that’s not the picture most people have in their heads when they hear zebra and lion in the same sentence. It’s usually the lion doing the chasing. That’s what makes this picture so fascinating. It’s outside of the norm.
We automatically associate lions with leading, but can zebra’s lead?
The lion is the king of the jungle. His strength leaves no doubt that he can take care of business. Many fables, and at least one Disney movie , reinforces his position in the jungle. We’ve learned many lessons from the lion, but what can the zebra teach us? Maybe the zebra can teach us about situational leadership.
Situational Leadership happens when there is a demand for a leader.
The designated leader of the Zebra harem doesn’t run from danger. While those he is protecting rounds up the young ones and surrounds the vulnerable, he stays behind to fight off the danger. (Who knew a zebra would or could stand up to a predator?!) Many times he may lose his life, but he gives the time needed for the harem and the young ones to get away. Thinking of others before himself is an integral part of the zebra’s leadership program. Are you the kind of leader that puts others before yourself?
Be Aware of Your Surroundings
Another leadership trait of the zebra, and perhaps the most important one that I will mention here, is the ability to be very aware of his surroundings. While it would be reasonable to think that the zebra would try to stay out of sight, it uses its natural attributes to hide in plain sight. But that’s not the leadership trait that I’m highlighting. It’s the Zebra’s uncanny ability to know when a certain environment is no longer safe or productive, and to implement a new strategy in favor of survival of the harem. Do you have the ability to sense when the environment is changing? Staying with a wrong decision too long in the jungle could get a zebra killed. Decisive leadership activities are needed in the jungle to save lives.
This picture of a zebra chasing a lion is worth at least a thousand words.
What if you made up your own story about this picture? One that inspires you to implement situational leadership, even though you are afraid? One that inspires you to lead, even though the odds are against you. A story that inspires you to lead, even though you aren’t the one with the title that says you are in charge. A story that inspires you to lead, even though “they” said that you can’t. What if you made up a story about this picture that encouraged you to turn the tables and lead, even when you fear that the deck is stacked against your success.
What if your leadership story begins with turning and chasing the lion?
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