Dolphins are loved across the world for their intelligence, playfulness, and curiosity. You’ll likely be hard-pressed to find a person who has a grudge against dolphins unless you are John Oliver. There are several things that we can learn from dolphins to apply to our own leadership and life walks.
They put others above themselves
Dolphins are very social in nature. As opposed to sharks, who live a solitary life, dolphins live in and operate in groups, called pods, ranging in size from 5 – 30. They live, eat, and sleep together and will always come to protect others in their pod where there is danger. They understand the importance of the group and will put themselves in danger in order to help others.
Do you find yourself living and working a solitary life like the shark, or do you do your best to contribute and raise the value of the whole team? Spend some time today thinking about your contributions to the teams that you are a part of. Celebrate those partnerships and the impact that you are having! We’ve done a number of shows on teamwork including:
- Motivate the unmotivated (show 134)
- Celebrate! (show 143)
- 5 ways to encourage others at work (show 154)
- Become a great long-distance leader (show 212)
- Prove me right: positive reinforcement (show 267)
They openly share knowledge and information
Another great quality about dolphins is their willingness and ability to teach others in their pod. Older dolphins will focus on hunting skills and other activities and attributes for younger dolphins to thrive as they grow.
It’s said that knowledge is power and that is certainly true. Some co-workers will leverage knowledge as collateral in their role, hoarding info for a sense of power and safety. The behavior is rooted in a sense of safety; if I am the only one that knows how to do a task, then I should be invaluable.
Good leaders and partners know the power of letting go of knowledge instead of hoarding it for themselves. You often can make yourself more promotable by showing that you have developed your replacement as you interview for the next role. Openly sharing your skills and knowledge also provides you an opportunity to delegate tasks and responsibilities that free you up to do new and different things yourself.
They shift leadership responsibilities
Dolphins are very social and even though they live in pods, there is no clear-cut leader based on seniority or dominance. Leadership is fluid and natural. The leader will change depending on the situation around them and the strengths and abilities of the individuals in the group. They are egoless in nature, willing to step up and lead when needed but also just as willing to give up the spotlight and let another member of the pod shine.
I love this approach to leadership and often try to model it in my own life. Give those around you a chance to shine and lead when the situation is right. I will look for opportunities for the junior members of my teams and those I work with a chance to take on a part of the project or at speaking opportunities in front of a senior leadership group in order for them to get experience and recognition. The other bonus is that they often are the subject matter expert or they bring a whole host of knowledge and experience to the table that I do not have, which only makes the solution to the problem all the more stronger.
They are playful & curious
You’ve probably seen videos, or even experienced for yourself, the playfulness and curiosity of dolphins. They are known to check out passing ships in the wild, they enjoy playing in waves, and all around enjoy their lives.
Life is full of change and it seems like we are always in multiple serious world events happening at the same time. Add that on top of all the challenges that happen to you as an individual and it can get overwhelming. Remember to enjoy the small moments that happen throughout the day. I’ve been in a season of constant meetings, so for me having a chance to spend a few moments with my sweet little dog between meetings is great. Also, be mindful to set a block of time every day to do something for yourself that you enjoy. That may be some exercise, a hobby, or watching a show among other things. It doesn’t have to be a large amount of time, anything to help break up your day and to give your mind a chance to engage in a different way is helpful.
Be the dolphin by leaning into the power of teamwork, freely give your knowledge away, let go of ego while leading, and remember to take some time to have some fun along the way.
Make a better tomorrow.