Being a leader is a tough job. It requires skills which sadly no book or college teaches us. These skills can be learned throughout our life, from our experiences and interactions and our successes and failures. Surprisingly, these skills can also be learned from humans who lived thousands of years ago; when times were simpler, animals were plenty, and the air was clean.
Since the time when humans were living in caves, hunting mastodons, and rubbing dry wooden sticks to make fire, we have craved leadership. Back then, it was the man who could lead the tribe or clan, kill a huge animal that would feed his tribe, and keep other tribes away from their hard hunted food.
In today’s modern, technology-filled world, the ideal leader is just like the ancestral tribal leader, though not expected to kill a mastodon.
Today, we expect our leaders to be well versed in their chosen field of work, to know how to get past problems, be able to keep up the morale when the times are tough, not to crack under pressure and make sane decisions that will benefit the tribe or workforce in the long run.
Tribes went to war with potential allies because the chieftain said “We help attack you” instead of “We help you attack”.
Unless you are able to communicate with your clients or business partners clearly and efficiently, you have little or no chance of success. Command over the language, proper pronunciation and articulation, and the ability to pitch and improvise it in real-time are important skills that determine how you do in your professional career.
Planning is the ability to come up with a plan, put it down on paper, amend it in response to the changing environment and stick to it when the going gets tough.
Going back to our ancestors, humans tracked herds of animals for months before the actual hunt, keeping track of old and injured animals, newborns and young ones, and migratory patterns. They would carefully plan their hunt, do practice runs and then successfully hunt down an animal large enough to feed their tribe for the coming months.
In the modern world, a good leader is expected to know how to plan a project, keep track of the progress, be aware of the possible problems and what to do to diffuse those problems.
Good leaders court their clients for weeks before closing the deal, and these deals bring in enough revenue to sustain their team for the coming months.
4. Time Management
Time is money. Not really though, money is money. Time is something more valuable.
There have been instances in ancient history where entire clans of humans had to go without food for prolonged periods of time because their leaders did not properly time their hunt for the coming season, or how they did not sow the seeds at the proper time and had to face famine.
Our leaders have to know how to manage their time properly- when to have breaks, what time of the day is the most productive for their team, what time-consuming activities bring in the most revenue and what is not so worth the time they require. Learning to manage your time can go a long way in your career growth, and can set you apart.
Negotiation is not a skill required just for a job, it is a skill required for life.
From negotiating with the interviewer to give you the job, to negotiating with a potential client to sign you on as a business partner, almost everything we do in our day to day life needs some degree of negotiating skill.
Our cave-dwelling ancestors relied on their negotiation skill for pretty much everything – two sacks of wheat for three month’s labor was probably not a good deal. Tribes that made bad deals vanished even when they were more powerful.
As a leader, you need to have a pretty good negotiation skill to manage your team and your customers. Negotiating the quality of work your team delivers, negotiating the cost for a project and the fees you will charge for it; if as a leader you possess good negotiating skills, it will always translate into a profit for you and your team.
6. Sense of Humour
Though it may seem irrelevant, a good sense of humor can be the one quality that either makes you or breaks you.
Empires have gone to war because their leaders did not have a sense of humor and could not take a joke. Companies go bankrupt because their leaders could not handle the ridicule after a setback in business.
Having a sense of humor enables you to, at times, diffuse the tension at your workplace and get the morale high and get your team all motivated and at full functionality. It can allow you to make lasting relations with your clients which means you won’t go out of business.
A sense of humor will always mean that yours isn’t an ‘all work no play’ enterprise, and your team members or employees will actually enjoy working for you.
Great ideas and skills, like the great thinkers of the past, rarely become outdated or irrelevant. Their application, be it decades or centuries ago, can still be used today to help us become better leaders.
So what skills from 10,000 BC do you think are relevant today?
Never thought these two things could have a connection, but you learn something new everyday! Keep publishing such content!