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Lion, Eagle or Frog: What animal personality is your BOSS?

Last updated on: August 08, 2013 20:33 IST

Lion, Eagle or Frog: What animal personality is your BOSS?

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HR professional-turned-entrepreneur Manjiri Gokhale Joshi's latest book Bosses from the Wild explores how human personality traits are similar to those found in animals.

Through the book, the author aims to explain how understanding animal behaviour can help professionals contribute better in an organisation.

Here we bring you an excerpt from Chapter 14 of Part 2, Leadership Lessons from Animal Behavior:

The dynamics of different organization types, areas of work and individual circumstances will result in a range of permutations and combinations.

However, there will always be some personalities who work together beautifully while others who would end up in conflict even if everything else about the situation is right.

So depending on your personality type, which boss personality would work best for you and which is likely to be a disaster?

The Lion

A lion personality type would rather not have a boss at all and is likely to have problems with accepting almost all the personality types in a superior position.

He would tolerate all of them of course and would probably have more respect for an older lion or lioness or an elephant, but only till he is old and strong enough to oust them from their positions.

A lioness personality type is likely to display the best performance while reporting to bosses like the elephant, lion or even the eagle as they would challenge her capability and she would want to meet their expectations.

Reprinted with kind permission of Tata McGraw Hill Education Private Limited. Excerpted from 9781259058592: Joshi: Bosses of the Wild; Rs 195.00. Copyright © 2013, by McGraw Hill Education (India) Private Limited. All rights reserved.

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The Elephant

Elephant personalities too would rather not have bosses at all, but they are not particularly interested in ousting them from their positions either.

They would barely disguise their boredom with the mundane and will pursue their quest of knowledge irrespective of their boss’ goals for the team.

They would be amicable with most personality types but in a detached manner.


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The Eagle

An eagle personality does not suffer fools.

As a result, there are very few personalities the eagle will respect.

The eagle reporting to a frog, sloth or rabbit is sure to result in disaster as the eagle will have no patience with any of these and will immediately overturn any decision on its head.

The eagle and the hyaena in any relationship are unlikely to be able to tolerate each other.

The eagle cannot digest anything but the blunt, unpretentious approach and the hyaena can digest anything.

While the eagle would spell out everything even if it does not need to be done, the hyena has layers of the versions of every situation.

While the hyaena's work style thrives on gleaning information and maintaining a dead-pan expression though interactions, the eagle has neither the ability nor the inclination to hide feelings!

The eagle would find the owl’s work style too regimented and boring and needs someone with more spunk in order express his individuality.

The eagle is too passionate and considers the owl’s clinical analysis of everything quite lacking in lustre.

The peacock’s display and jargon does not cut any ice with the eagle’s no-nonsense nature either.

So that just leaves three personalities who could possibly hope to have a fruitful professional relationship with the eagle -- the elephant, the lion and the lioness.


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The Peacock

The key to managing a peacock personality is giving space and freedom of expression preferably with no rules.

And this of course is out of the owl personality’s sense of order.

So owls make the worst bosses for peacocks as peacocks find them too low key and owls find interactions with the peacock vague and disconcerting.

But peacocks do quite a good job of reporting to most other personalities as they realize that managing the boss' expectations is a key aspect of professional growth and usually do what is right to keep this professional relationship going.

Rabbit bosses see a kindred spirit in peacock personalities as their flamboyance enhances the visibility of the rabbit’s team.

Sloths don’t mind the peacocks getting all the attention as they get to rest especially because peacocks provide them with adequate cover and ensure that they are not exposed to predators.

So whether it is the elephant, lion, lioness or eagle, all bosses usually have a blue-eyed entity in the team -- and that usually is the charming peacock.

Nobody wants the sloth is their teams as he pulls the team’s performance down.

However, most teams do have a sloth or two as they manage to hide well and also help the other fast track performers stand out!

The sloth manages most bosses well, the easiest being rabbits and dolphins as they won’t create a ruckus and rock the boat even if they realise that the sloth is slowing things down.

But eagles have no patience or tolerance for anyone who slows down the pace at which they achieve their goals and will be very harsh with the sloth, threatening him to speed up or exit the team.


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The Frog

Frog personalities usually do a good job reporting to any of the other personalities.

Every industry and every organisation has its share of frog personality leaders and they are really the ones who keep business as usual going irrespective of upheavals at the top levels.

Frogs usually make excellent bosses as long as their team members do not challenge their ability or knowledge and act smart with them.

Frogs are territorial about their kingdoms, however small, but they are realistic in their expectations. As long as the frog’s boss does not try to micro-manage him, things are perfect.

A frog would have a fairly good relationship with most of the other personalities like lions, lionesses, hyaenas, elephants, eagles, owls and even sloths.

If a peacock personality tries to impose his new fangled ideas or question the frog’s time-tested methods of achieving results, there is likely to be stiff resistance and breakdown of communication.

A frog may have a limited sphere of influence but he is not afraid.

As a result, a frog personality will not have any respect for a rabbit boss especially if the rabbit boss tries to drag the frog personality into copious reporting procedures, review meetings and presentations. When the frog is working, he wants to work.

He has the skills to produce satisfactory output but not necessarily the skill to package the output into appetising and palatable portions.

And if the rabbits and peacocks want to teach him how to package himself and his team, he genuinely would prefer to stay away—it is too far out of his comfort zone.


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The Dolphin

A dolphin personality never has a problem with any other personality and given the positive attitude, they are willing to accept bosses along with their idiosyncrasies.

A dolphin would not approve of the aggression or deception practiced by his hyena boss and would not emulate it, but would not display any activism and oppose the hyena's acts either.

A dolphin would rather have the warmth of a lion/lioness mentor or bask in the glory of the peacock’s glamour sometimes.

As a result, a dolphin personality would find an owl boss' clinical correctness rather cold.

But there are no serious complaints and a dolphin would never be accused of insubordination.

An eagle boss’ aggression and insensitivity could cause serious harm to the dolphin.

If not checked before it goes out of control, an eagle’s behavior could even result in the dolphin walking away for good.


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The Owl

Most leaders would like an owl personality in their teams and the owl too meets their expectation with his dependability, stability and meticulousness.

The owl finds it very difficult to be spontaneous and grapples with understanding the greys between the black and white. He is extremely uncomfortable with subtle cues and inconsistency.

The owl therefore cannot fathom the vagueness of the peacock and the layers of meaning in the hyaena’s behavior and would rather avoid working for them.

The owl is a little shy about responding to the warmth and largesse exhibited by his leonine or dolphin bosses but is happy about the target oriented approach.

Owls like elephant bosses best especially because they are more patient with the details that the owl always has to offer.

Rabbit bosses heavily depend on the owl personalities in their team for ensuring that everything is double checked before it is submitted.

Despite the appreciation for aesthetics that rabbits and peacocks share, rabbits are afraid of peacocks in their teams.

The two could be great friends, but the rabbit boss can never be sure that whatever was submitted was actually the case and not an over-stretched marketing spiel.

Owls are very sharp and do know very well when their sloth boss is procrastinating. However, owls do not like to disturb the status quo and make good reportees to the sloth as well.


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The Rabbit

Rabbit personalities are afraid of everything, especially of their bosses, whatever the boss’ personality type.

The rabbit will do exactly as his boss says. In fact, till he orders something to be done, the rabbit will do nothing.

So the rabbit really has no problem reporting to any personality type especially in the beginning of his career.

The rabbit personality’s real problems begin when he starts managing a team and then continue forever.

He spends a major portion of his professional life attempting to translate his boss’ wishes into reality, often unsuccessfully pretending to his own team that this is how he really wants things done.


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The Hyaena

The female hyaena ideally does not like to report to anyone and she makes no pretence of liking the subordinate position either.

Female hyaenas would go about their work in the manner they want with little regard for anyone else’ opinion.

There is a very high possibility that they are right as they are extremely competent and excellent at assuming control for superlative performance.

Female hyaenas have no problem reporting to rabbits, dolphins and sloths as they face little or no resistance.

They do not respect their bosses but would successfully pretend to so that they can continue doing what they like.

They do not like their owl boss’ tendency to ask too many questions and the drilling into detail makes them uncomfortable as they see nowhere to hide the layers of the situation.

They do quite well with peacocks but they don’t really respect them either as they can see through the peacock’s packaging skills quite easily.

Hyaena personalities do not respect elephant bosses either as they perceive them as slow, lumbering and judgemental. But they are slightly afraid of them as elephant personalities can see through the hyaena’s tricks quite easily and do not trust them.

Male hyaenas do not really mind reporting to any boss or at least that is what they try to convey to the boss as long as he is the boss.

They too are happy having a rabbit, peacock, dolphin or sloth boss as they can continue their games without any interference.

The worst professional relationship and the most volatile is between the hyaenas and the leonine personalities, irrespective of the reporting structure. As a result of conditioning over the years, the two personality types cannot stand each other and conflict is inevitable.

Reprinted with kind permission of Tata McGraw Hill Education Private Limited. Excerpted from 9781259058592: Joshi: Bosses of the Wild; Rs 195.00. Copyright © 2013, by McGraw Hill Education (India) Private Limited. All rights reserved.


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