Let me start by saying I am not a camel expert. Some of what I know about camels, I have learned from reading throughout my life. Some I learned while talking with people who know more about them than I do. I, however, have become more interested in the animal since I actually rode one.
As with everything I do in life, from that experience, I drew some powerful leadership lessons worth sharing. So since tomorrow is “Hump Day,” here are four lessons camels can teach us all about leadership.
Leaders must be resourceful
In grade school you likely learned that camels are able to go several days without food and water. While I am not suggesting that leaders must fast, I am suggesting that as a leader you must learn to better use the resources available to you, using them wisely and making them available to others when they are needed. You have reserves of energy, focus and discipline, along with more tangible resources, for yourself and for those you lead. Make the best of them.
Ask yourself: What am I doing to create a storehouse of important resources to be available for my team in the future?
Leaders must be able to take the heat
Camels live in the desert. They are designed for hot weather, and in that weather they thrive. While I’m not talking about literal heat here, leaders do need to be able to take the heat and pressure when times are tough and when challenges arise.
Ask yourself: Are you willing and able to weather challenges and difficulties, making it easier for your team to remain focused and productive even in adverse conditions?
Leaders must be able to see into the distance
I don’t know much about camels’ eyesight, so I don’t know how far they actually see, but I know how tall they are. Getting a higher perspective allows them to see more and see further. As a leader, you must create opportunities to gain a higher view and a different perspective in order to best serve your team and your organization. With a big-picture view you can more easily make decisions that benefit the business.
Ask yourself: Are you proactively keeping your sight on the future and helping your team see the vision of your organization?
Leaders must realize they exist to serve others
Camels are domesticated animals, and they have been bred and chosen because they serve man in very specific and helpful ways. The thing that most struck me about riding a camel wasn’t the riding itself (although it did give me a fresh perspective and higher vantage point), but rather, what the camel did to help me get on and off its back.
The camel got down on his front knees, then down on his back knees, putting himself in what seemed to be an uncomfortable position, a serving position. The metaphor was powerful for me.
To be a successful leader, you must recognize that everything isn’t about you. Instead, you have to put the people you lead first. I am sure the camel would prefer to not have a person riding on it – and sometimes as leaders it would be easier if others weren’t following us. Yet, like the camel, you must willingly serve the people who report to you, even when it makes your life a little difficult or uncomfortable.
Ask yourself: In what ways are you serving others today?