We Have A Lot To Learn From Wolves
When it comes to teamwork, we can learn a lot from animals — specifically, wolves.
For wolves, every day is about survival. Wolves rely on each other to function, thrive, and survive. As highly social animals, wolves live in structured family units called packs. Cooperative living gives wolf families a number of benefits. Teamwork facilitates successful hunting, pup rearing, territorial defense, and more.
As social animals ourselves, what exactly can we learn from wolves?
Here are a few wolf pointers we can learn from:
The importance of communication.
With highly-tuned and refined communication skills, wolves convey all kinds of messages to one another. They communicate intentions, rules, excitement, and warnings via barks, huffs, whines, growls, tiny adjustments in their body language, and howls.
Howling is arguably the most well-known method of wolf communication, howls allow wolves to convey information while several miles apart. A howl’s low pitch and long duration is well suited for transmission on the wild landscape – a wolf’s howl can be heard up to 10 miles away in open terrain!
Wolves will also communicate through scent marking. Although it’s not recommended for us, “pee-mail” is a great communication tool for wolves!
Work hard and don’t give up.
Hunting is really hard work for wolves. Hunting success is generally the hard-won reward of good communication, extensive traveling (wolves can travel up to 30 miles each day in search of food), and a chase.
As a generalist carnivore, wolves hunt prey that can range from the bite-size and agile rabbit to the massive bison or moose. Although hunting large ungulates like elk, bison, moose, and caribou offers the biggest reward (enough food to feed the entire pack), it also comes with the biggest risks. During the hunt, it is not uncommon for wolves to be injured or even killed by the force of a heavy hoof or sharp antler. Moreover, research shows that wolves fail more often than they succeed. With their very survival at stake, wolves don’t have the option to give up. They persevere, learn lessons from their missteps, and try again.
Wolves mainly use body language to convey the rules for the family. To maintain order, wolves will rely on their posture, tail position, facial expression and ear position to articulate their status and role within the family. Wolves will also use body language to communicate intentions or to initiate some fun. Just like us, wolves love to have fun. When seeking to play, wolves will dance and bow playfully. Playtime often includes a game of chase, jaw sparring, and varied vocalizations. Not only is playtime fun for wolves, it also hones essential skills and strengthens family bonds.
Don’t hold a grudge.
Building a strong team requires wolves to pass down critical skills and knowledge from one generation to the next. Parents teach their young how to cooperate, recognize and respond to the behavior of pack mates, manage their own impulses, and reconcile after a conflict.
It should be no surprise that quick resolution to conflict is important for pack survival in wolves. Ultimately, cooperation is key. Moreover, ongoing interpack strife can result in devastating long-term effects on the wolf family, including loss of resources, territory, and the lives of pack mates. Open-ended discord may eventually lead to pack dissolution.
If better teamwork is your goal, just remember this: Wolves work smart. Wolves work together. Wolves cooperate. Wolves have fun. Be like a wolf!