The Park Ranger and the Leading Lion

//The Park Ranger and the Leading Lion

Collaborative employee A
We are between a rock and a hard place, they will not change their plans and we cannot force them to. I honestly believe this training proposal is necessary for the program be successful, but they simply won’t resource it.

Collaborative employee A’s manager

I’m almost to the point of saying “to hell with it – let them rot”, but I know that isn’t the answer. If they persist then we need to be prepared to assist when the project fails – which costs more money than if we did it correctly the first time.

Collaborative employee A
I had been in this battle for a long time before I realised they would not allow us to help. There are only so many times you can come back and fight the same battle. Then I challenged myself: “So this means that you can’t manage what is needed?” I really dislike the sound and implications of that question.

Supporting aggressive leaders with knowledge-based proposals is like being a ranger in a wildlife reserve responsible for caring for the lions. The lions consider only the immediate benefit to themselves and have little interest in longer term strategies. They are not able to understand that the ranger is there to support and guide them and without whom, the lion would not survive in the wider changing world. The ranger ensures sustenance and protection for them and their part of the world for rest of their life. However, this requires a little cooperation from the Lions. Unfortunately the lions are disinterested or incapable of understanding the value of the ranger’s advice and support. Even once it is implemented (assuming the lion does not try to eat them whilst doing so), they may not appreciate what it has done for them.

I ask myself why are we rangers take the risk of working for lions on the open grassland with little protection and kudos? Unfortunately, as the Global Financial Crisis has shown much of the business world is ruled by prides of primeval carnivores living day to day for their own benefit. The rangers are those of us trying to convert this into something more sustainable for the benefit of all. Unfortunately, lions have not asked for this and don’t appreciate why we are doing what we do. They are blissfully unaware of the wider impacts on the world and how this ultimately affects others as well as themselves.

We are bound to lose a few battles and win some others. Not perfect, but progress. We are in this environment because it needs us. Going back to the management question.… So how do we MANAGE the primeval carnivores so that they make the most of the situation they don’t understand (or don’t want to understand)? Sometimes it is better to allow some small mistakes to be made and prepare to be there to support them though and to minimise the consequences when they happen. It is quite conceivable that under such circumstances, you will be chastised for “allowing” the mistake to happen, despite your best efforts to prevent them (and probably being mauled a few times).

The fact those “accusing” you of not doing enough to prevent the issue are the very animals that flatly and robustly rejected your earlier suggestions should not surprise you. They will not thank you for cleaning up, will criticise you for poor management in allowing it to happen, but in your heart you know it was the best outcome overall as it prevented the major disaster. Rangers are Owls and ultimately Owls can only influence over time to optimise outcomes, not force actions.

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Arthur Shelley

Arthur is collaborative leader who engages stakeholders to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes. His professional success record spans over 30 years of experience across the international corporate, government and tertiary education sectors. Internationally recognised as a knowledge and capability development thought leader, equipped with a diversity of skills and achievements including being the author of two books, a regular international conference speaker, award winning tertiary teacher and a volunteer student mentor and career advisor. Creator and leader of the Organizational Zoo Ambassador Network, an international association of professionals interested in sharing and innovative application of metaphor based behavioural learning and development to improve personal and team outcomes and build relationships.

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