Wolfish Wisdom

I caught a glimpse of an entertaining niche in management and team training on a BBC World rolling news segment the other day. A group of German forest rangers teach leadership lessons based on how wolves behave.

In lovely footage from the wolves natural habitat, one of the experts divulged her pair of primary tips that business people could learn from the ways of the wild wolf.

Her first comment was intriguing. The Alpha Wolf is not aggressive. She thought this flew in the face of the established view that in order to progress you must vigorously squeeze any opposition. How many sales campaigns do you now have gone south when aggression is the hallmark of a particular move, erroneously considered cunning and essential at the time?

Her second insight was that such an Alpha Wolf can be ousted at any time if they are deemed to be doing an unsatisfactory job. I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself at how this wisdom may have gone down with macho execs, used to acting (and being treated) like a Greek god in their domain.

The ramifications for solution sellers are interesting. It can be so easy to slide down the slope of aggressive tactics. I’ve been party to many situations of this ilk. They never made me comfortable. Any initial success was both rare in itself and deemed impossible to build upon. Both outcomes render it a tactic incompatible with solution selling. Perhaps it is that the wolves have learned that aggression is a sign of desperation, one of last resort. And admittance that everything is going wrong and rather than re-group and start again, the battering ram is deployed. Only to find boiling oil poured from atop the rampart.

Yet both points are linked. Aggression can so often be at the behest of a sales manager, under intense pressure themselves, who mistakenly see such actions as defining strength. In which case, the quota carrier at the coalface would do well to engineer a new boss on such campaign.

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