Byron's Babbles

Leading Like A Platypus 

We need to be able to form our organizations to be platypus-like. Think about this: platypus; a new ‘critter’ combined of various parts to accomplish a specific task. This morning I read Lesson #46 entitled “The Nose Knows” in 52 Leadership Lessons: Timeless Stories For The Modern Leader by John Parker Stewart. In this story Stewart explained the platypus and what we can learn from this amazing animal. Here is what my own study and reflection revealed after being inspired by this story.

Without a doubt, a cool animal to act as a leadership example is the duck-billed platypus. It appeals to my nonconformist instincts because it breaks so many rules of biology. Consider this: the platypus has a flat, rubbery bill, no teeth, and webbed feet, like a duck. Yet it has a furry body and beaverlike tail, and nurses its young like a mammal. But wait; it walks with a lizard gait and lays leathery eggs like a reptile! And the male can use venomous hind-leg spurs to strike like a snake. The platypus holds a certain charm precisely because it does break all the rules. Somehow or other, it still works as an animal.

“Your ‘unconventional’ skill set may be exactly what your challenges call for.” ~ John Parker Stewart 

Since flaps cover its eyes, ears, and nose, how can the platypus find food? Its bill is equipped with sensitive electroreceptors, pinpointing prey like shrimp and crayfish (by sensing muscle contractions in it’s prey) as the platypus digs through mud and pebbles. With its catch stored in cheek pouches, the platypus comes up to the surface to grind the food between its toothless jaws.img_2189-1

We need to learn from the platypus and challenge the norm. Regardless of what people thought in the 1700s, and as we know today, the platypus is not the result of different parts of the otter, beaver, and duck sewn together. Yes, when one platypus was sent from Australia to Britain, scientists could not believe that the species existed. Thus, be like a platypus and be who you are regardless of any judgement or criticism; be true to your unique self.

We need to build our organizations to be platypus-like and develop a model for collaboration where we assist our team members with varying and unconventional skills in developing boundary-spanning behaviors which in turn make our organizations effective for our states and nations.

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