Fable of Lionesses - Embracing Feminine Leadership!

Updated: Sep 13, 2021


The issue of low representation of women in leadership roles is not unique to one organization, country or continent; it is a global matter and although there has been progress over the years, the rate at which women are appointed into leadership roles is increasing at a very slow pace.

Many researchers all over the word have written theories on the subject in an attempt to find answers, and to gain an understanding of the reasons behind the slow progression of women representation in leadership.

The arguments are vast and authors have written many theories on what can be done to improve the rate; the barriers that hinder women from progression which are imposed by the society, organizations, men and even women themselves in terms of lack of confidence to lead, or the disempowering behaviours that women display in the work place which hinder their progress.

Some authors argue that the reason we are not making much progress is because women are expected to behave the way that men do in order to be regarded as leaders in the society, and the tale of how the lions became the best hunters in the animal kingdom is centred on this theory. The fable is not intended to provide a solution to the matter but rather to narrate a success story of female leadership in the animal kingdom.

How the lions became the best hunters in the animal kingdom

A long, long, long time ago in African, lions used to hunt in silos just like all other wild cats however, they were the only cats that lived in groups and had to share their meals with other members of the pride. The male lions did the hunting while the lionesses cared for the young and they struggled to get a fill from each hunt because one lion could not on its own, kill a large enough prey to fill the pride. To make matters worse, hunting alone meant that the lions were successful in one out of six attempts for a kill so the pride will go for many days without a meal before the next successful kill.

The Lion King, Mufasa was worried about the survival of his pride, so he called his royal council to put their heads together and find a solution to the problem at hand. One wise lion advised the king to send his two hunters into the wild, to learn the hunting ways of tigers because tigers were able to kill large preys. Mufasa heeded the advice of the wise counsellor and sent his two most trusted hunters to observe tigers when they hunt.

The two hunters left their territory and embarked on a journey to find tigers in order to learn their hunting ways. After a long journey across two continents they arrived in Asia, the habitat for tigers. It was not long before they spotted a tiger and they followed him at a distance. They waited patiently as the majestic beast laid in wait for hours, waiting for his prey to come along. Night fell and the tiger was still waiting.

Just when the lions thought that there would be no action that night, his glowing eyes started to move around in the belly of a dark night The lions watched as the tiger’s eyes were stalking an unsuspecting Asian black bear. Quick as a flash, the tiger sprang into action and jumped 30 meters high, aiming for the back of the bears’ neck.

The bear was quick to react and ran for her life with the tiger in pursuit of her. At the speed of about 80 kilometres per hour, the tiger soon caught up with her and had a grip on the back of her neck. He held on to her neck until she was dead.

The lions were satisfied with what they learnt from the tigers and headed back to Africa to report their learnings to their king. Upon arrival, they told Mufasa and the royal council that tigers are able to kill larger preys because of their strength, ability to jump high and run at a high speed; all qualities that lions had however, what gave the tigers an advantage is that they were much bigger and muscular than the lions and that they were very good with camouflage; the lions on the other hand had manes on their head and necks, and the large hair made it easy for preys to see them and escape.

Well with that report, Mufasa told his hunters to work hard and build more muscles in order to be as strong as the tiger. The effort did not yield much fruit because they still couldn’t grow as big as tigers and their manes were still a giveaway. Mufasa decided to have the lionesses take a stab at hunting because the lionesses did not have manes and could

camouflage better but his advisors warned against his decision, arguing that the lionesses were not built for hunting because the male lions were physically bigger and stronger, and that never before had a lioness ever hunted.

Despite the council’s objections, Mufasa sent the two hunters to travel South of Africa in search of lessons from animals that live in groups and led by the female species for survival. The two hunters headed south and came across a herd of elephants. They quickly learnt that elephants are led by a matriarch, the eldest female cow in the herd, who knows everything there is to know for the survival of the herd, and that all elephants follow her lead.

The lions learnt that the cow leaders are mostly respected because of their wisdom, associations and confidence. The lions observed that they differ from elephants in a sense that their authority is linked to physical strength while the authority with elephants is earned by their nurturing superiority and compassion. The leaders are instrumental in mentoring other cows on how to care for their calves and teach them all they need to know to survive in the wild.

Satisfied with their learning, the two lions headed back to their pride and reported their findings to Mufasa. “Well then, let’s try the ways of the elephant and let our lionesses hunt and groom the pride to be better hunters”. The king’s word was final so the council accepted Mufasa’s decision but advised their king to let his male hunters first train the lionesses and teach them to hunt like men. Mufasa thought it was a fair advise so he made a declaration that all lionesses will be trained to hunt like male lions.

The training did not yield much different results, lionesses were not as well built as the male lions and their strengths only resulted with the hunt for even smaller preys. There was a little improvement with supply for meals because there were more hunters in terms of volume however, Mufasa wanted his pride to hunt larger preys. Remembering that elephants relied on the wisdom of their leaders, he tasked the lionesses to find a way to kill a buffalo. One brave lioness had an idea, she acknowledged that lionesses had physical limitations and therefore suggested that the huntresses should combine their efforts and hunt collectively as a group. Mufasa accepted the proposal and off they went to attempt their first big kill.

The lionesses were naturals at collaboration and working together, the era they lived in called for collaboration and they did so successfully; they did not kill a buffalo but, the result of that group effort was a tasty chunk of Zebra that all members of the pride indulged in and had their fill. From that day, the huntresses hunted more of larger preys and did so more frequently because when combining their strengths and attacking as a group, the ratio of a successful hunt improved from one out of six to one out of three.

The pride ate more frequently, and the lionesses started to gain more confidence in their hunting abilities, so much so that they tackled even buffalos. But the buffalos were not that easy to take down; the challenge at times was so great that the male lions had to step in to help.

Overtime, there were more and more successful hunts for buffalos, the lionesses developed bigger and stronger muscles that made them even more equipped to kill large preys, including preys which were larger than the animals that tigers could kill.

The huntresses became so good at hunting that the male lions no longer needed to do much hunting, the male lions shifted their attention and became more focused on protecting their pride and safeguarding their territory against their enemies.

Being nurturing in nurture, the lionesses started to impart their hunting skills and lessons to lion cubs, they showed them the ropes and watched them closely as they learnt to hunt. They would identify hunting opportunities for them, sass out the environment to ensure that it was safe for little ones to hunt, showed them the way and shared their hunting knowledge; the huntresses mentored their cubs to become self-sufficient hunters. As a result of the lionesses’ teachings, the pride transformed into a group of competent hunters, each performing at their outmost potential and that created a high performing team, a great pride that was admired by all animals in the kingdom.

Mufasa looked at his pride, with pride; happy that he chose to allow his lionesses to lead the hunting team based on their own talents as opposed to trying to hunt like the male lions. He realised that the pride would have not seen so much success had he listened to his advisors; the pride achieved a lot more than they ever envisioned and all because the lionesses unleashed their talents, were confident in their own natural capabilities and led the team based on their own strengths that were not defined in terms of masculinity.

To this day, while the Great White Sharks hold the title of the best hunters under the sea, the lions rule on land, and it all began when a thought leader, Mufasa challenged the status quo and embarked on a transformation journey for his pride, many, many years ago.

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