Ian Thomas (South Africa)

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Game Ranger & Management Expert

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As a Londolozi ranger Ian discovered remarkable comparisons between the hunting techniques and defence strategies of lions in the Savannah Plain, and what we characterise as the business jungle. Backed up with management theory, he sets out how corporate teams can learn from the way lions focus on their prey and take only calculated risks: “Lions instinctively respect and trust one another, knowing support is there at times of danger. And just like humans they respond to incentives.”


With ten years’ experience as a gamewarden at Londolozi in South Africa, Ian points to remarkable comparisons between the lions of the Savannah Plain and the ‘business jungle.’ With each having their own responsibilities, personalities, strengths and weaknesses, lions can tell us a great deal about successful business teams.

Lion prides have a flat social structure in which all benefit from belonging to a group of equally powerful members sharing the same clear-cut goals. This is an immensely efficient formation which allows the success of each individual to contribute to the team's success: teamwork for maximum effect.

The lioness hunting prey is just like bringing in income. She is also responsible for raising cubs, directly comparable with a human organisation developing new team members. Likewise the act of securing territory, the male lion’s role, is very similar to protecting a market from competitors.

Lions are highly focused. They take calculated risks, but never indulge in reckless gambles. They also have a very structured selection process with few cubs making it to adulthood. For businesses putting teams together, there are few better models.

Leaving audiences to draw their own parallels, Ian’s utterly compelling presentations also show how each lion is constantly alert to communication, how they instinctively respect and place their trust in one another; and how just like humans, they respond to incentives and feel gratified when success is rewarded.

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Agent Recommendation

Ian is one of the most captivating speakers I’ve ever seen. He’s not an actor, but nobody else can bring to life as vivid a picture of how lions behave - and then use it to demonstrate human teamwork. When he describes how a cub will chase a zebra knowing other members of the pride will join in, you can hear a pin drop. And you know the penny’s dropped too. JLA Agent Jeremy Lee

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