Today am going to discuss on some managerial lessons that business persons and startups Entrepreneurs can learn from the colonies of floating ants that created islands to survive flooding.

This article is directly going to place you on the importance of teamwork and as a leader,CEO or a manager the usefulness of learning from others, not regarding there personalities.

A single Solenopsis invicta will struggle in water even if the ant is moderately hydrophobic. But a group of these fire ants will survive by assembling their sole assets (bodies) into a flotation raft capable of keeping each ant alive, even if external forces attempt to submerge the ant raft under water.

We all know the purpler quote that says United we Stand, divided we fall. Teamwork is the power point of an organization. And teamwork takes observation, learning, effective communication, and applying strategies to ensure a successful job well done. To have a successful team a leader moat be reading to learn from his employees because at most cases there opinions are super useful, a leader who thinks his words is the best to handle a situation will never grow.

If you harbor great ambition for this to ignite success in your organization, then you need to consider this few lessons.

1. Employees are not ants.

Some executives, in their excitement for lean and profit, forget that employees are not ants. Employees in an organization have personalities that cause them to respond differently to problems and crises. Individuality are made for Unpredictable behaviors to external forces, so don’t try to walk on them or use insecticide.

Management lesson
When assessing potential members for a team, look at how each additional member changes the "team personality".

Don't fall in love with the idea that one or two charismatic or strong team members will somehow neutralize what dysfunction or weakness other team members present. Executives don't have enough time to spend developing the best employee behaviors, because they exhaust too much time controlling damage from problematic employee behaviors.

No matter how smart an employee is, if that personality weakens the kind of team personality you need for a project, do not add "the genius that will cause the project to implode. Only add team members that enhance and strengthen the team personality you need for a task.

2. A Solenopsis invicta raft is not a spontaneous occurrence, but an emergent one.

The visually fantastic cooperative nature of ants is a direct response to a life threatening crisis (flood, or being tossed in the air by curious scientists).

Executives create teams they think will work "best" (functionally optimal) together. But the worst of times is the true test of just how functionally optimal a team is.

Teams that do well only when times are good but falls apart when times are bad, can sink a company, because it is in these "do or die" corporate situations that demands the most coherence (cooperation) from employees.

Unfortunately, employees are not ants and cannot be forced cooperate when they believe the company is sinking and they need to save themselves with new employment offers.

Management lesson
When developing employees, invest as much time developing their skills in faminous times as in prosperous times.

I realize not every executive is comfortable holding difficult conversations about how poorly the company is doing, and what this means for employees and themselves. But just because you are not talking about it, does not mean employees are not talking about.

When ominous clouds of possible layoffs drape over heads, ignoring these obvious tensions allows rumors and gossip to emerge as the pervasive behavior. Addressing these tensions head on, including admitting what you do or do not know, makes room for "how can we remain productive and constructive during these fluxes" behavior to emerge.

Create teams that can survive the worst, not only do the best. You as the executive must also be the executive that can triumph through the worst, not only succeed during the best (of times).

3. Cooperation is not as "cooperative" as you assume.

"Central to the construction process is the trapping of ants at the raft edge by their neighbors, suggesting that some 'cooperative' behaviors may rely upon coercion."

Not all is "well and automatic" in the ant raft world: ants naturally want to be on top, not on the bottom, and those ants at the EDGE are the ones on the fence between top and bottom.

In order to preserve the optimal structural integrity of an ant raft, based on the number of ants, there is a degree of "force" to keep the ants who are at the hinges (edges) from leaving their position to get to the top of the raft.

Ants moved from the bottom to the top as part of a "self-healing" process, when ants on top of the ant raft were picked off, leaving a void. This movement re-configures the ant raft to preserve a particular raft thickness.

Management lesson
This is the hairy part of the big picture: observation of these ants' behaviors caused the researchers to assume these ants are acting as "self-propelled independent agents".

The management lesson here may be a philosophical one: at what point can an organization be built such that teams work harmoniously as "an organism", such that during times of crisis, teams continue to function optimally?

This type of organization requires each member to be as competent and willing to be at the bottom of the raft and at the edge of the raft as much as at the top of the raft, depending on where each member happen to find oneself during a crisis.

Members who are kept at the edge of raft by other members who exercise "careful coercion" must recognize the purpose of the act for what it is, and not take the act "personally". Members who are doing the careful coercion must know how to keep their neighbors at bay for the greater good without injuring them, knowing that the situation may be flipped and they find themselves at the receiving end of the claws.

For small business owners,CEOs and entrepreneurs especially, there is a major lesson here. By engaging everyone in the organization, and trusting people, you will have more success. You must not think that only you can close the sales, install the products, and fine-tune the design all by yourself. Give others the opportunities to fail or succeed, and always ask for help. I have learnt to forward emails on the projects to others, instead of hoarding them for days. I also share project progress and challenges to all team members. The more people know where we are, the more they come up with solutions. You never know which member of your staff has information or networks that can unlock future growth opportunities unless you share and communicate with the team.

It means understanding like my ancestors says that “The ant-hills are not built by elephants, but by the collective efforts of the little rejected ants.”

Thank You. #poseurAfricaCDA