7 LEADERSHIP LESSONS FROM A MASTER ANIMAL TRACKER
Wildlife tracker Renias Mhlongo is a unique person.
He possess a skillset refined over a lifetime to rightly earn him the title of Master Tracker.
But he also has unique human qualities too. And it’s the combination of these qualities together with their skills which places him in a league of his own.
I recently spent time with Renias in the field. My goal was to understand what leaders can learn from master trackers.
This is what I discovered.
1. He knows what he is good at.
Renias for example is brilliant at anticipating an animal’s direction. Knowing his strength is a big advantage. It helps him find the animal with minimal wasted effort. Equally, he readily admits what he’s not good at and is quite happy for others to compensate for what he lacks.
2. He loves what he does.
It’s so obvious when you are with him. This keeps him energised and engaged. What I noticed is that he equally loves the work as much as he does finding the animal. He finds the process deeply rewarding. This is important because it keeps him going when times get tough. When it hot or cold keeps him going through the times when it’s hot, cold and uncomfortable. It gives him perseverance. And this perseverance which allows him to be more successful more often.
3. He balances rational thought with creativity.
Renias has the wonderful ability to be both literal and imaginative at the same time. He is highly skilled at the detail and the big picture zooming in and zooming out of these two modes effortlessly. It’s true creativity in action – interpreting the minutia but also fully zoned into the signals and information from the environment around him.
4. He is constantly learning.
Despite his experience Renias never believes that he’s arrived’. He is intensely curious and possesses an insatiable desire to know and understand more.
Losing the track does not derail him. It’s part of the process and a fresh opportunity to learn.
5. He radiates conviction and confidence.
Renias is positive to a fault. He simply believes he will be successful.
This is contagious. It inspires confidence and strengthens the resolve of younger trackers. It also creates safety. Even in dangerous situations –when the animal charges or shows aggression, he displays calmness and common sense throughout.
6. He loves teaching others.
Renias is a patient, dedicated teacher … devoted to growing the next generation of wildlife trackers. This means growing their skills. But also, filling them with confidence and exposing them directly to opportunity.
7. He is humble.
Actually I would say this is a signature feature of his personality. He does not track to impress others. His humility also means he has tremendous compassion and empathy for the animal … and it allows him to ‘put the animal in his heart’, as he likes to say.
I was deeply inspired by my time with Renias. What would it take to become a master leader I kept thinking to myself? This led me to the formulation of a few questions as a good place to start.
Here they are:
- Do you know what you are good at and do you play to your strengths?
- Do you love what you do?
- Can you simplify complex things and bring other people along with you?
- Does your reward come from doing the work and not just what the work produces?
- Are you curious, constantly seeking new ways to learn and grow?
- Do your words and actions inspire hope and confidence?
- Do people feel safe around you?
- Are you actively growing the next generation of leaders?
- Do you have your ego in check?
I wish you well on your own leadership journey. Stay on the trail and keep tracking success.
Learn More about Renias and his Master Tracking here.