Another Look At Leadership – Leading Like A Llama

by Yvonne Ruke Akpoveta

I had never given Llamas a second thought until I got a request to write a blog on ‘Lead like a Llama’. I’m not quite sure why I said yes, but I did, and now here we are together, learning what it could possibly mean to lead like Llama.

I had an idea what a Llama probably looked like, but beyond that, I had no idea of their behaviour or characteristics.

Llamas belong to the camel family, so picture a camel without a hump, and that gives you an idea what they look like. They are commonly found in Andes of South America, and some of their uses include; producing wool, transporting goods, and consumed as meat in some cultures. Their initial origin can be traced back to North America, before they started to become extinct in the ice age, and then became domesticated in South America.

While we may be very familiar with many other traits of leaders, here are six additional items the Llamas may be able to demonstrate to us when it comes to leadership:

  1. The first observation you would make about the Llamas is their primary use in transporting goods, and being led as part of pack. However, one of the characteristics of good leaders is the ability to also be led. A leader is also willing to follow when necessary.
  2. Llamas do not always follow blindly, but courageously stand their ground when needed. If they are overloaded, they lie on the ground, refuse to move, and will spit, hiss or kick as a means of communication, and remain in this state until their burden is lessened. A leader is sometimes required to be courageous and stand their ground in the face of adversity.
  3. Llamas are dependable. They are able to carry heavy loads, even in highly elevated regions that can be difficult for other mountain climbing animals. Leaders are often trusted with larger responsibilities to lead and support their teams and organisations
  4. Llamas adaptable to change and resilient. They are able to survive by eating various types of plants and can go for a few weeks with little to no water, which provides them with the ability to cope in challenging and sparse mountainous terrains. Leaders are often responsible for leading initiatives, and required to have the staying power to deal with tough situations.
  5. They are quick to learn. They are easier to train compared to other domestic animals, and learn quickly after only a few repetitions. Leaders are knowledgeable, open to continuous learning, and not stuck in doing things only a certain way.
  6. They are social, pleasant and friendly. They live with other Llamas as a family, are protective of each other, and pleasant to be around. One of the characteristics of a good leader includes charisma. Good leaders draw people towards them, and they touch the heart of people before they lead.

Perhaps next time you see a Llama you will look at them differently, I know I will looking at them with new eyes for sure. Though Leadership may not always be inherent for all; we have the ability to learn skills and behaviours that could help us become better leaders.