Yesterday, while I was creating an outline for a future talk, I chanced upon this amazing illustration.
A recently published study revealed that worker ants sacrifice time and efficiency in order to teach other ants how to find food. When an ant goes out to find food, she will often choose another ant to accompany her. If the second ant doesn’t know the way to the food source, the leader will teach her through a process called tandem running. As the teacher runs along the path to find fod, the student follows behind and will often stop to locate landmarks. When the student is ready, she will run forward and tap her teacher on her back legs. This process is extremely beneficial for the student. Ants participating in tandem running located a food source in an average of 201 seconds, while ants searching for food on their own took an average of 310 seconds (a 35% difference). However, the study found that the lead ants traveled up to four times faster when they were not accompanied by a student.
If the leader didn’t want to be slowed down this much, researchers also observed that some would simply carry a follower on their backs and drop them off at the food source. This technique was three times faster than tandem running. But here’s the catch: the carried ants were not able to remember how to get back to the food source again.
Tandem Running is not just applicable with ants; it is also applicable with leaders. Waiting and helping other people goes hand in glove with leadership. As you practice “tandem running” by mentoring others, you’ll cultivate more satisfying and deeper connections with your people.
*Source: Love Styles “Putting your love styles to work for you”