Leadership, Learning and Agility: The Way Of The Dolphin

Elegant, highly intelligent, fast, and adaptive, the dolphin represents a powerful metaphor for today's leadership; an apt descriptor for an individual capable of moving, as needed, across all three of the territories (T1 - instruction, T2 - exploration, T3 - play).

The dolphin seeks collaboration, looks to improve effectiveness by impacting the total system, and strives to expand rather than exploit its natural boundaries. The difference is most clearly identified in how a dolphin creates a powerbase. The dolphin asks a new question.

Apart from speed and elegance, the dolphin has a number of natural assets that makes it the true master of its environment. Comfortable swimming in harmony with others, it can communicate across all three territories. Dolphins respond to signals of concern in an empathetic and caring way.

The dolphin is quickly identifiable by its ability to traverse the water available - even expand the size of the pool. The language of the dolphin is rich and compelling. The dolphin uses words to paint a picture not merely of the way things are, but the way things need to be. Through rich and vibrant imagery they create tomorrow in the room, today.

A master of language and story, the dolphin's metaphors are inclusive, often encompassing humour and drawing examples from nature to reframe perception. The dolphin is also comfortable swimming at any depth and, with one thrust from its powerful tail, can move from the surface to the bottom of the pool and be equally comfortable - be it organizational level, dealing with concepts, international exposure, and/or involvement in operations.

In that they put the needs of others first, trust is the abiding contribution that a dolphin brings to selling, the team, and building a constituency. A dolphin defines success in terms of value creation and lasting partnerships. What do we need to do to build a long-term relationship? Successful business development is predicated on building a value proposition focusing on where the customer will be and not where it's perceived that they currently are.

The dolphin invariably reaches out and asks to be coached - by another dolphin! The dolphin is perceptive and, with exceptional powers of hearing, is quick to identify the needs of others. The dolphin responds to problems by reframing the context, creating strategic opportunities, encouraging diversity, building the team, and welcoming constructive conflict as an opportunity to generate new ideas. All this is performed with elegance and speed of action.

Insights from "Leadership, Learning and Agility: The Way Of The Dolphin (PDF)".

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