Byron's Babbles

Leading Like Giraffe

Posted in Educational Leadership, Giraffe, Global Leadership, Leadership, Leadership Development, Tennessee Safari Park by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on November 26, 2022

Yesterday we might have just started a new family tradition for the Friday after Thanksgiving. For the second year in a row we are spending Thanksgiving weekend with our son’s girlfriend’s family in Medina, Tennessee. We love her family and have an incredible time. Yesterday, we went to the Tennessee Safari Park in Alamo, Tennessee. It was awesome! We laughed so much, learned so much, and had so much fun. My son said, “We need to do this every year on the Friday after Thanksgiving.” Tomorrow, I’ll have another post about the safari, but for now just know this drive-through safari with an additional walk-through park is very well done. This post is about my experience with the giraffe in the walk-through park. We had already experienced two giraffe in the drive-through portion of the experience and was just amazed by their height and how majestic they are. Then, in the walk-through zoo, I got to pet and feed one carrots (see featured picture). I fell in love! So, you know me, I started to do some research.

First of all, these majestic and beautiful gentle giants are basically mute. They make no whinnies, growls, trumpets or howls. Maybe the occasional snort. Now, there is a great leadership trait – no talking! Leading by action and doing. excellent vision. Giraffe eyes are among the largest of land mammals. A giraffe sees in color and over great distances in front of them and has such a great peripheral vision they can see behind themselves as well. Just like the best teacher leaders I know! Their exceptional vision enables them to scan and to keep track of each other. Are you seeing this connection to leadership come together?

Growing to between 13 and 18 feet tall, giraffes are the tallest animals on earth. They have an elevated vision (I’ll bet you didn’t see that coming). Therefore giraffes have a terrific field of vision for seeing what’s ahead – food, obstacles, or dangers. In fact, I learned that zebras, deer, and wildebeests (all of which we saw and fed out of our little white buckets), often congregate near giraffes to take advantage of their ability to see and move toward food and away from predators. Huh, isn’t this what we appreciate about great leaders and makes us want to follow their influence. As leaders we need to strive to be like giraffes and identify opportunities, see dangers in advance and, in turn, take action accordingly. We need, at times, to be able to take views from 30,000 and 10,000 feet.

While the giraffe, with their elevated vision, are great at seeing potential threats, they are also willing to take on dangerous predators. Giraffes have the ability to kick and deliver deadly blows to the would-be predator. Also, giraffes have ossicones which are comparable to horns or antlers that allow them to use their head like a hammer. Isn’t that another thing great leaders do? Not the deadly blow part, of course, but be proactive in identifying and resolving issues before they become detrimental to the organization, group, or community. Because of the elevated vision, great leaders can respond instead of always reacting when unexpected dangers do arise. Like giraffes, great leaders do not hesitate to take effective action.

Just like giraffes stand tall, we all should find our natural attributes and use them. Every giraffe is unique. No two giraffe have the same coat pattern. Just like each of us have our own characteristics that make us incredible, and make the team incredible when all those characteristics come together. Are you leading like a giraffe?