In October 2021, media outlets including USA Today ran a story showing video of one alligator eating another alligator in Horry County, South Carolina.1 The video is an incredible account of one large reptile gobbling up a smaller one. According to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, “Alligators will eat almost anything, including each other; they bite and fight to eat, court, defend, or protect their territory.2”
Alligators are not the only ones who eat their own species. So do humans. Not literally unless you are a cannibal, but figuratively. How often do we chase down, attack, chew on, and then gobble up each other?
This behavior is rampant in our society including the workplace, academia, government, religious institutions, athletics, and our homes. What happened to mature, civil discourse between each other? Too often civility quickly disappears just like the larger gator chewing up the smaller one.
Civility involves respect, politeness, and consideration for others. However, being civil to one another does not mean we have to agree with our individual likes, dislikes, preferences, or beliefs. Is it possible to disagree with someone without attacking, biting, chewing, and gobbling them up?
- Do you claim to be an open-minded leader, yet the minute someone disagrees with something you say, you launch an attack?
- Does your organization allow and embrace honest dissension or do managers and supervisors assault the poor individual who dares to disagree with a decision or policy?
- Have members of your organization watched the big gators of management consume the smaller gators and now they cower in fear and never say anything that supervisors construe as criticism?
Leadership or Management
One human “gator” gobbling up another human “gator” is not leadership. That is management by fear, intimidation, and coercion. Nothing productive comes from this type of behavior and the human “gators” create an atmosphere that is toxic and hostile.
Leaders treat people with respect, and they have the courage and backbone to address problems and issues as they arise in a civil manner creating trust with others.
What about you? Are you a human “gator” or are you a leader who creates trust and credibility with your subordinates?
1 “Viral video shows huge alligator eating a smaller alligator: ‘It’s a freaking dinosaur’,” USA Today, accessed October 12, 2021, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2021/10/1/alligator-eats-another-alligator-viral-twitter-video/5954787001/
2 “Alligator Biology and Behavior,” Louisiana Department of Wildland & Fisheries, accessed October 12, 2021, https://www.louisianaalligators.com/alligator-biology-and-behavior