The Octopus, The Crocodile & The Wild Dogs

In many of my leadership development as well as Managerial Skills development Training Programs one specific activity I try and inspire my participants to do is learn from ANIMALS. There
02 Sep 2017 10:00
The Octopus, The Crocodile & The Wild Dogs
Mayur Kalbag

In many of my leadership development as well as Managerial Skills development Training Programs one specific activity I try and inspire my participants to do is learn from ANIMALS.

There are amasing qualities we can learn from almost all the animals and birds that are living along with us on this earth.

If you were to simply observe a colony of ants, you will see that there are numerous things to learn and the qualities we learn can be quite easily implemented in our professional as well as personal spheres of life.

Through this column I wish to share certain positive and practical qualities that we can learn from an Octopus, from the Crocodile and also from a Lion to help us enhance our own capabilities as a Leader or Manager!


The Octopus:

There is a lot to learn from an Octopus and I wish to highlight some important qualities.

The Multi-tasking ‘Tentacles’- From an octopus we can learn how it uses its tentacles to do multiple things or activities at the same time.

There will be a couple of tentacles holding on to the ‘Prey’ and a few holding on to a rock for balance and some other tentacles will be doing something else and all this would happening at the same time.

If one were to relate this to a leader I would say that a leader must understand his ‘Team Members’ as his own extended tentacles.

He must make the best utilization of each member’s capabilities and qualities.

In fact I would like to say that apart from Multitasking the leader can use the team members to create Effective Delegation of the various tasks and responsibilities towards accomplishing the objectives and goals!


Flexibility- If you were to observe an octopus you will notice that it is extremely ‘flexible’. A fairly large sized octopus can easily escape from a small sized ‘jam or pickle jar. Due to its flexibility the octopus can easily wriggle itself out without causing any injury to itself.

What can leader learn from this particular quality? Well I would like to tell every leader or manager that whenever there are new ‘changes’ or new developments in your department or in your organization as a whole the leader or manager must not be ‘rigid’ or ‘stubborn’ in accepting the ‘change’.

What the leader must become is flexible and adaptable to that change especially if he knows that the ‘change’ is going to be beneficial for him, his team and also his organization!


For the leader, the flexibility means to have the attitude of adjusting and accepting CHANGE.

I believe that people who do not become adaptable and flexible to change end up remaining stagnant in their professional careers!

Assertive & Passive and yet Alert- A very practically important quality we can learn from the octopus is the way or manner in which it displays two aspects of its attitude.

Under normal circumstances the octopus will be calm and in a way, passive. It will be that way as long as it is not disturbed or attacked.

However, if and when it feels that it is going to be attacked or threatened you will see a different aspect of its attitude and this is its attitude of Assertiveness, and at times the attitude of Aggression too.

Having said this even when it is hungry and needs to attack a prey for its food you will see that the octopus turns itself from being calm and relaxed to being aggressive and focused upon attacking its prey. Similarly, the leader too must posses both aspects of his attitude.

If a situation demands assertiveness or aggression he must become that and at other times the same leader must exercise calmness and control in his actions and words!

Alertness is also vital to the octopus.

It needs to be extremely aware about its predators such as the shark and other larger sea creatures such as even the giant squid. Or example, the leader too must enhance his alertness towards being aware of all that is happening around him.

He must be alert about his competitors as well as alert about the satisfaction levels of his customers.

Another intriguing feature believed to be about the octopus is that it is a very intelligent and a wise animal of the ocean.

I guess the only learning from this is that the leader or manager must keep enhancing his knowledge and wisdom through reading of books and learning from ‘experiences’ of his own and of his seniors.

Well friends, there could many more of such interesting qualities we could extract from the amazing Octopus but I believe for now the ones which have been highlighted could be a good start. Let us try and get inspired by the octopus and learn the above mentioned qualities and subsequently use them to help us grow as leaders and managers.

In my next column I will be exploring the various qualities which we can learn from the Crocodile and how these qualities can make a positive difference in our professional as well as personal lives.

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