The Tiger-Cub Theory of Leadership

The Tiger-Cub Theory of Leadership


I was working, and as it usually happens while you do the most important tasks, your mind wanders off. I was suddenly curious to learn about the dynamic relationship between a tigress and her cub. I have no idea from where this bizarre idea popped up. I quickly Googled through tons of articles and settled down on the topmost one.I scanned through the article and some facts startled me.

The Tiger-Cub Theory of Leadership

Pattern 1:

Fact#1 When a cub is born, only a tigress looks after it. The male has no part in bringing them up. Heck, I have heard that sometimes, they even eat them.

What I deduced: Lack of emotional attachment from male tigers.

Fact#2 The survival chances of the litters is substantially low. The mortality is pretty high and almost 50% of cubs do not survive.

What I deduced: The weak do not stand a chance. Survival of the fittest seems to be the law at work here.

Fact#3 When the cubs are being reared, one of them identifies himself as the strongest and starts kind of inculcating the habits of a leader from young. The tigress recognizes this aggressive trait in the cub and starts giving him a priority. He feeds better, plays more etc.

What I deduced: Nobody gave this cub the authority to lead. He understood his position and took his authority. After he initiated his leadership, others started to treat him as one.

What is so interesting about the dynamics of a wild animal?

Although it’s too far fetched to say that we can compare the nuances of a wild animal with that of a human being, but if we look carefully here, we might find a play of factors. In order to decode it, let’s look at the facts in a reverse order.

Pattern 2:

Fact#3 The cub recognises himself as leader and acts on it.

Fact#2 Since the cub is the leader, he is fed well, thus he is fitter than the rest. There is no question of him being weak and not making it.

Fact#1 At this point of time, it hardly matters who brings them up because the leader of the pack is already on the verge of an establishment.

What it means to us?

Almost every human being follows the Pattern 1 of nature. Let’s get in details now. We are looked after by our parents first, then by mentors next. The best of us earns the attention of the mentor and becomes their favorite teacher’s pet. This mentor/teacher gives us special attention boosting our self-confidence and enhancing our skills. We get opportunities due to our great networking skills and by this time, we start recognizing the leader within us. We perform and excel. We lead the team.

What about those individuals who aren’t so lucky?

Every model in nature has a flip side to it. This one has too. The flip side of this model is that it does not give equal opportunities to all. It coaxes you to be favored and mentored by someone to reach the pinnacle of success. There is nothing wrong with Pattern 1 but it’s what everybody follows and thus, we all have the risk of being in that group of litters who don’t survive. If that sounds scary, read on.

Now the good news is that this isn’t the only model which exists. Pattern 2 can work equally well. Let’s have a look:

We take our self-imposed authority and recognize the leader within us. Since we have the mindset of leadership we start honing our skills and start setting parameters to help us achieve our goals. Being independent or rather self-dependent, we have eliminated the need for a mentor. This leads to exploring the opportunities ourselves and again grooms us in the respective field. After many successful and unsuccessful attempts, we know what works and what does not. We now have the magic mantra which leads to success. The result: We actually become industry-accepted leaders in our respective fields.

Why did I go for this method?

My main motive in introducing this method is to make individuals realize the authority they have to lead even if they haven’t been given it. We can sit and crib or start making the much needed positive change. If you can exercise your authority of leadership, you end up living it. One does not need followers to exercise leadership. Leadership is first exercised on an individual level and then on a mass level.

Why would I talk so much about leadership?

I have seen multiple cases where the individual is in a position of growth and desires to lead the pack. Due to organizational hierarchy or industry constraints(if operating on an individual level), the individual usually takes a backseat and what follows is the dismal Pattern 1. Even the most gifted ones end up not surviving the changing dynamics. No wonder the mortality rate of cubs was higher.

I want to communicate to all individuals right now, that we all have the attributes of a leader inbuilt. We only need to recognize it. Recognition leads to empowerment and empowerment leads to leadership. You can have that managerial position you always wanted, you can rise beyond the people excelling in your niche market and even counsel them, only if you choose to. If you choose to take up your authority as the leader of pack, the pack follows because what matters here is not what opportunities came your way, who mentored you or who helped you enhance your skill but that you chose to recognise yourself as the leader you always wanted to be, left your old identity behind and the world followed.

This is self-analysed theory deduced by the author and may/may not hold references to proven scientific studies on behavioral sciences.