7 Team Building Lessons We Can Learn From Animals

Carly Syms -

Team Lead for Marketing & VIP Customer Service

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It’s true that many animals thrive alone, living solitary lives, e.g., Shere Khan in the Jungle Book (Hacky Fact: “Shere” means “Tiger” in some Indian dialects and that’s the same “Khan” as Genghis Khan). But we’ve noticed that there are a whole lot of furry and scaly creatures out there that survive on cooperation and teamwork. Social animals range from packs of wolves to flocks of geese and are experts in team building. They stick together because they have to – it’s critical to their survival. While team building for humans might not be critical to our literal survival, it is definitely crucial to our success in the workplace.

Let’s see what we can learn from some of the animal kingdom’s best and brightest.

The Cattle Egret: Teamwork for the Win

Cattle Egrew
Via Rebecca O’Connor

The Cattle Egret is often seen perching on cattle or other grazing mammals. The egret eats parasites off of the cattle’s body and often warns about oncoming predators. Cattle shake up grass and dust, disturbing insects for the egret to eat (TIFR).

Tip: Teamwork between different departments can foster success while communication between different departments builds stronger relationships.

Canada Geese: Leadership is Flexible

Canada Geese
Via John Benson

The flying V formation is used by Canada Geese for migrating long distances. If the leader at the apex of the V gets tired or sick, another goose will take its place (Emerald Research Register). This ability to rotate leadership shows how important it is, not only for leaders but for a whole team to be flexible and watch out for each other.

Tip: Be alert and aware of the needs of your team members. Flexibility and delegation when it comes to leadership are key to a successful team.

Honey Bees: Structure Makes Teams Efficient

Honeybees
Via Todd Huffman

Bees are often used as shining examples of teamwork in the animal kingdom; this isn’t without reason. A hive of honey bees can consist of up to 60,000 bees. Each bee has a specific job that contributes to the overall success of the hive. (MAAREC)

Tip: Structure and delegation of work is critical to productivity. Delegate work evenly and efficiently among team members. Ensure everyone knows the importance of his/her role.

Dolphins: Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

Dolphins
Via National Geographic

Communication in the dolphin world is key to survival. From vocal calls to tail slapping, dolphins use multiple methods of communication to direct, lead, and protect each other.

Tip: Clear communication is crucial to the overall success of a team. Sharp communication, whether written or voiced, brings teams closer together in high-stress situations and is key to a fully functioning team.

Wolves: We’re In This Together

Wolves howling
Via National Geographic; Photo by Jim & Jamie Dutcher

Wolves are known for traveling in tight knit packs that have very strict social rankings, forcing them to be expert communicators. The wolf’s howl isn’t just for communicating over long distances or distinguishing between packs. Some scientists believe that wolves howl communally to help strengthen social bonds and camaraderie. (Wolf Country)

Tip: Fostering camaraderie and encouraging employees to get to know each other will create stronger and more successful teams. Also, howl together.

Orcas: Learn the Ropes

Orcas in ice
Via National Geographic; Photo By Ralph Lee Hopkins

Orcas, one of the most famous predators of the deep blue sea, are experts in working together to accomplish everything from hunting to teaching their young. Scientists have documented elder orcas nudging and coaxing the younger whales to test out hunting techniques. (Nature)

Tip: Encouraging employees to try new things and learn from each other helps to enhance learning and build stronger teams.

Spotted Hyenas: Problem Solving Teams

Hyenas
Via National Geographic; Photo by Nik Wittmann

Spotted Hyenas are pack animals with food on the brain and, according to a Duke University anthropologist, their problem solving skills rival that of some chimpanzees. A group of hyenas were presented with a food reward and two ropes; the animals soon discovered they needed to tug the ropes in unison to get the food. (Duke)

Tip: Group work can be the key to successful projects. Teams or groups of workers may be able to address certain problems better together than individually. Make sure your teams understand how working together can create productive and prosperous projects.

These are just a few awesome examples of how animals use teamwork and cooperation to survive in the world. We can learn a great deal about the importance of teamwork from these animals. Did we leave any out? What animals inspire team building within your company?


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