Team Building Harare, Zimbabwe

A CULTURE OF COOPERATION – TEAMWORK WISDOM FROM THE WILDDOGS

Wild dogs may not be appealing physically but their cooperative order is a marvel of teamwork worth emulating. Everything that happens within and around the pack is a lesson that any team aspiring to greatness should take note of. In as much as each member of the pack is strong and uniquely talented, they know fully well that without others, they are highly vulnerable. It doesn’t matter how intelligent, talented or experienced a team member might be, nothing much is accomplished without others. The legendary football player, Pele, would say ‘No individual can win a game by himself.’ Pele was indeed a great footballer but he only became great because there were other players in the playing field. 

When the alpha female dog gives birth to pups, she remains in the den as she feeds the new members of the team. She doesn’t die of hunger as other dogs have team sense to bring back food to the nursing colleague. As if that’s not enough, other team members remain around the den whilst others go hunting to ensure the safety of alpha female and her young. As the pups grow older but still too young to go out with the rest of the pack, they start to eat food regurgitated to them by those that have been on the hunting expedition. A morsel of meat can enter into several mouths as the pieces are eaten and passed on to members of the team through regurgitation. A team that lacks care and concern for its members won’t achieve much. A culture of standing for each other is the glue that binds great teams together. These are teams where the ‘WE’ always takes precedence over the ‘ME.’

In those cases where a single dog down some prey in the absence of others, she leaves the kill to go and look after other team members so that the meal is shared with the rest. It is such level of selflessness that gives the pack great strength. Success does not lie with the individual but with the collective, cementing the assertion that one is too small a number to achieve greatness. 

When the pups are still in the den, they develop a strong bond by playing together, eating together, sleeping together and just being one unified whole. Such closeness develops to form a culture so difficult to break. Each team member knows that they are not alone in the universe. As they grow older, they stand by a member of the team who gets injured by bringing food for them, carrying them and protecting them where necessary. It is such modes of execution and togetherness that makes a difference between exceptional teams and those that are mediocre. One would want to look at wild dogs as more human than most human teams because of sensitivity to each other’s needs. The members of the pack remain comrades for life. 

Because of the culture of unison that the dogs develop from a tender age, the level of role clarity within the pack is a marvel. Even if the pack is comprised of 40 members, each one has a role that is well defined and they stick to the given assignment. This can be likened to well written job descriptions that subsist in our organisations. The only difference is that even though the wild dogs do not have written statements and well written rules, their execution points to more orderliness than most human systems, hence the need to take a leaf of teamwork wisdom from these great team masters. They don’t have written Code of Conduct but the conduct of each member points to something better than what we have seen thus far. 

No team achieves much without clear communication. The wild dogs appear to have attained some doctorate degrees in the art of team communication. Through different vocalisations, barking, facial expressions and other nonverbal cues, the dogs are able to convey information to each other in a fashion that is only but awe inspiring. To initiate a hunt, the wild dogs do not just get on the move. They first enter into a democratic process to determine the next move, whereupon what the majority votes for is taken and adopted by the rest. Upon making the decision, then comes the war cries and the motivation associated with jumping about to get every member excited. With heightened energy, the team is ready for the work at hand. Not every potential prey that comes on sight is pursued. Instead, the team targets potential prey and communicate with each other on the one to pursue. It’s never a haphazard process. Everything is well synchronized unto the good of the whole team. 

The dogs know fully well that as they pursue the prey, the one on the lead can get tired. This doesn’t mean that the hunt stops. The dog in the most advantaged position quickly takes the lead as the prey is pursued. This process goes on with leadership changing from one to the other until the prey is downed. Prey can be pursued for the whole day until it drops out of exhaustion. The level of perseverance amongst the pack of wild dogs is second to none as they continue running after their target. In the event that the dogs get closer to the prey, they grab a piece of flesh whilst the animal is on the run. After some time, the prey can just drop because of loss of blood from the body and exhaustion. 

With a successful kill, the dogs wait for each other on the table, quickly eating so that their kill won’t be stolen from them by other predators. The dogs eat so much meat to enable themselves to regurgitate when they get back to the rest of the family. The survival of every member of the pack is the responsibility of all. Cooperation is the order of the day, not competition. The wild dogs complete each other instead of competing with each other. To the team, accomplishment of the purpose takes precedence over the respect for positions at the expense of the team agenda. 

The wild dogs, even though they are endangered, continue to ply the savannah displaying high levels of teamwork which act as a lesson and inspiration to all. These creatures remain as a reminder that working together makes our pilgrimage on this planet worthwhile regardless of whatever field of endeavour one find themselves in. After all, there is nothing great that has ever been achieved by an individual working alone. Even the mighty ocean is only but raindrops that have combined forces into one unified mass of water.

Picture of Noah Mangwarara

Noah Mangwarara

NOAH MANGWARARA is an international leadership coach and transformational speaker, renowned team building expert and Author with traceable footprints of positive impact and experience of more than 20 years spanning Southern, East and West Africa. He is the author of several books on Leadership, Motivation, Teamwork, Strategy and Public Speaking.

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