30 Jan Leadership lesson from Bees (Part 1)
Bees are fascinating insects. We can take a leadership lesson from them. Too often we take nature for granted and fail to study it and learn from it. There are many fascinating facts about bees. We are not experts on the little insects by any means but we have taken a few interesting facts to share with you and “converted” them to help convey key leadership skills necessary in our busy day-to-day work lives.
After Spring the hive is at its lowest population. Bees need to build up the hive during Spring to increase the population by the time summer arrives. By summer it is essential that the hive should be in full swing of honey production.
First leadership lesson from bees
Our first leadership lesson: Do not focus on short-term goals alone you must plan ahead. Future planning is necessary. What happens if the source of nectar diminishes or disappears? Never sit back and be complacent because things change fast. We should constantly be changing and innovating for the future success of the hive (company). In bee speak – plain flavoured honey pays the bills today. What will pay the bills tomorrow?
Usually bee hives continually transform but when complacency sets in, the hive will struggle to change and maintain the urgency and momentum necessary to survive and prosper.
Second leadership lesson from bees
Our second leadership lesson: Every bee in a hive is industrious and purposeful. Under normal conditions they communicate quickly and efficiently. When communication breaks down and decision making is too hierarchical – problems can occur. Engaged employees thrive on autonomy within a set of boundaries. People prefer to be given a set of parameters within which to operate and then be left alone to make the decisions necessary to implement.
Third leadership lesson from bees
Our third leadership lesson: Bees typically develop defence systems to keep out intruders. They have bees responsible for different jobs and each bees knows and understand what the other is supposed to do. They ensure the hive is environmentally friendly and control the temperature. Communication is key. The hives are, generally speaking, well organised to ensure the bees survival. Bees are social insects. Ensure everyone knows and understands each other roles with the organisation.
Fourth leadership lesson from bees
Our fourth leadership lesson: It takes 300 bees visiting 2 million flowers, flying over 88,000 km’s (54,680 miles) to make 454 grams (1 pound) of honey. Bees are hard working insects. If only 13% of your workforce (hive) are engaged in what they do (Gallup Poll of 2012), how much productivity are you losing every day through disengaged workers? How many more flowers could the bees in your hive be visiting every day? Managers control, leaders engage.
Fifth leadership lesson from bees
Our fifth leadership lesson: There is nothing more important to you as a leader than the survival of the hive so make sure you run it properly and engage your teams. Visit them, talk to them, inspire and encourage them. Too often leaders put their own importance above that of the hive. Leaders should be self-sacrificing, not self-serving.
Look out for part 2 of this blog soon!
The Bee Book is a leadership parable that can help leaders in your organisation to embrace some of the ideas in this blog. You may order The Bee Book on Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com in hard copy and kindle format.