Look Different like a Zebra/Cheetah

Let's face it- the pace of change and speed of competition seems to be under the influence of performance enhancing drugs these days. Leaders are tasked to stay on top of change, build an internal organization, and develop a community around their brands and business. The multiple demands can be dizzying. Fortunately, a new guide is available to assist in navigating this difficult terrain.

Leadership and the Call of the Wild
A recently released book by Micheal Burt and Colby Jubenville, Zebras & Cheetahs, Look Different and Stay Agile to Survive in the Business Jungle, provides a unique perspective on how managers can simultaneously direct business strategy, organization culture, and customer relationships. Burt and Jubenville cleverly use analogies from the wild to illustrate how business leaders can learn from the jungle to discern vision, make decisions, and lead people. Among my favorite analogies are:

Look Different
The takeaway from Zebras and Cheetahs with the greatest impact for me was a simple but powerful directive: Look different. Why did these two words resonate with me? They were powerful because the phrase contains dual meanings. One take on look different refers to the unique makeup of a Z&C leader (the book's cover illustrates this application of look different). The book is an instruction manual on how managers can blend the distinctive qualities of the zebra and cheetah to stay agile and lead a tribe toward shared goals. The second take on look different is more of a mindset to employ in our professional lives- look different(ly) at the problems of customers, the challenges faced by employees, the ambitions of competitors, and the dynamics of the external environment. Most importantly, I must look different to fuel my  professional growth. Also, it is important to point out what look different is not- wild hair style, outrageous wardrobe, or outlandish behavior. Those are esoteric gimmicks, not authentic characteristics of a Z&C leader.
Your Z&C Trainers
Here is one more analogy from the jungle to ponder- Burt and Jubenville are the trainers who use Zebras and Cheetahs to coach us to reach for a higher level to be Z&C leaders. Micheal Burt believes "everybody needs a coach in life." That includes those of us called on to be leaders ourselves. Leaders need to be nurtured and developed in order to advance their tribes. We have the capabilities to look different; Zebras and Cheetahs provides the map to navigate the concrete jungle and not only survive, but thrive.

Labels: ,