16 Leadership Traits of the Honey Badger

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I was in a strategic planning meeting and before I started my session, my client, asked his team, as an icebreaker, “if you could be any animal in the world what would you be and why?” Out of a group of 20 people there had to have been 10 eagles (everyone wants to be an eagle), 5 lions, an owl and a few other unmemorable animals.  It was an entertaining to say the least exercise.  Well, as I study leadership I am always looking for leadership lessons in the strangest places like, my dog, children, and other odd scenarios.  It just makes for good writing.

Well, it wasn’t until I was having dinner with a friend who was wearing a shirt with the picture of a honey badger on it with the words that said, “I take what I want or I always get what I want” or something of that nature.  I was intrigued right away.  I started my research and was quite impressed with this Honey Badger and realized that he has some true leadership characteristics.

Now, as a student of leadership for more than 15 years when it comes to leadership, I’ve studied the best, Ziglar, Brown, Buckingham and Covey. I am a facilitator of the JW Fanning Leadership curriculum as well as a certified John Maxwell speaker, trainer and coach with the John Maxwell Team.

Yet, none of them can touch the Honey Badger.  Sorry John!

That’s right, the Honey Badger, that small carnivore that has a reputation for being, pound for pound, Africa's most fearless animal despite its small size. It is even listed as the "most fearless animal in the world" in the Guinness Book of Records. The African Honey Badger is a natural leader!  He is:

  • RELENTLESS,
  • TENACIOUS,
  • HAS A REPUTATION FOR PERFORMANCE, AND
  • DOESN'T USE FEAR AS AN EXCUSE- EVER!!

Honey badgers are carnivores. They will catch the larger reptiles like crocodiles (1 meter) and pythons (3meters) and include the highly venomous cobras and black mamba in their diet. Larger mammals like, the polecat and particularly young foxes, jackals, antelope and wild cats, are also caught. Now this tells me that the Honey Badger is

  • DETERMINED TO SUCCEED- NEVER AFRAID OF LARGER THAN LIFE CHALLENGES,  AND
  • OUTCOMES DRIVENhoney badger

Honey badgers locate their prey predominantly by their acute sense of smell and catch most of their prey through digging. Honey badgers are accomplished climbers and can easily climb up into the uppermost branches of trees to raid bird nests or bee hives.  That tells me the Honey Badger must be familiar with THE 21 IRREFUTABLE LAWS OF LEADERSHIP because he clearly practices:

  • THE LAW OF TIMING
  • THE LAW OF INTUITION AND
  • FOCUSES ON HIS STRENGTHS  INSTEAD OF HIS WEAKNESS

The Honey Badger is rarely seen drinking water at the available waterholes, and derived most of their water requirements from their food and melon during seasons when they were available.

  • HE DOESN'T ASSOCIATE OR WASTE TIME WITH NEGATIVITY; OTHER BADGERS WHO ARE NOT LIKE-MINDED
  • RESOURCEFUL

Honey badgers generally hunt alone. They find food by walking slowly continuously smelling mouse and small reptile holes and scent trails.  The Honey Badger must also be a fan of John Maxwell and read the 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth because he understands the need for alone time by practicing,

  • THE LAW OF REFLECTION

Honey badgers have a two-peaked activity pattern with two active periods of 2-8 hours each during a 24 hour period and prolonged resting in burrows or under bushes.

  • STRATEGIC PLANNERS--UNDERSTANDS THE IMPORTANCE OF PLANNING HIS DAY

Honey badgers do appear to have some immunity to snake venom. A honey badger bitten on the face shows signs of severe pain but recovers fully within five hours. This immunity may develop over the life time of the honey badgers due to regular contact with small amounts of venom in snakes, scorpions and bees.

  • THE HONEY BADGER IS SURELY RESILIENT AND NOT AFRAID TO TAKE REPEATED RISKS. OVER A PERIOD OF TIME IT BUILDS CHARACTER AND STRENGTH.

When digging for small prey items more than 40 % of the lizards and rodents escaped above ground and it is these escaped prey items that are available for capture by the 5 types of birds who follow the honey badger. These associations appear to be a form of commensalism where other opportunistic predators’ key into the opportunities provides by the hunting efforts of the honey badgers, this appears to have few direct costs or benefits to the badgers.

  • His Inner Circle - Create opportunities for others.

Honey badgers are solitary carnivores with males and females; only meeting up to mate before going their separate ways again.

  •  ALTHOUGH HONEY BADGERS ENJOY THEIR SOLITUDE THEY DO UNDERSTAND THE IMPORTANCE OF NETWORKING AND COLLABORATION

John Maxwell, Les Brown, Michael Hyatt and Marcus Buckingham there is a new thought leader on the scene and it’s the African Honey Badger; he is spreading his leadership lessons all over the jungle.  So the next time you are doing an ice breaker or get to know you exercise and the facilitator asks you “if you could be any animal in the world what would you be?” Before you jump so quickly to say the eagle, you better consider the Honey Badger who may be small in stature but makes an impact, is results driven and remains determined despite challenges.  So, when I grow up, I want to be like the Honey Badger using my talents, skills and abilities to make an impact throughout the world despite the larger than life challenges, fear or snake bites! So, my question to you, does your leadership ability stand up to the honey badger? If it doesn't we would love to help you get there!

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Taunya A. Lowe, Ph.D. is the CEO of The Resurgent Group of Metro Atlanta, LLC and Director of Leadership Development for The Impact Experience, LLC, a human services and leadership development consulting firm located outside Atlanta, GA.  Speaker, trainer, coach, with the John Maxwell Team, author, professor, entrepreneur, and, the Siegel Institute for Ethics, Leadership and Character 2013 Phenomenal Woman. She is a skilled change agent with a focus on developing people and organizations. She enjoys combining her photography and writing to motivate, inspire and lead people toward growth and change. Order her debut book, Wanna Start a Riot? Change. http://www.wannastartariotchange.eventbrite.com   To learn more, visit our website http://www.theresurgentgroup.com and to learn more about the African Honey Badger http://www.honeybadger.com/index.html