<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=749646578535459&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

Can Hippo Leadership Please Be the Next Trend in Business Management?

Posted by Maggie Millard

Find me on:

Nov 7, 2016 7:09:00 AM

Hippo leadershipMany of you read my post last week about a Stanford Business article regarding problems inherent to top-down teams and how to solve them. At the end, I couldn't help but allude to a story from that article in which a leader shares how he prefers to lead like a hippo. I couldn't pass up the opportunity to write a separate post around this hilarious visual, so here it goes.

The Stanford Business article says

[The researcher] described meeting a CEO who subscribed to something he called the “hippo style” of management. In meetings, he found dominating the discussion and talking about his own ideas caused his team to stay quiet and not challenge the status quo. To fix that dynamic, he started opening up the discussion more in meetings, allowing himself to “sink below the water” like a hippo, watching and listening rather than constantly talking, Greer says.

Let's repeat that, in case you missed it.

This CEO subscribes to "the hippo style of management." How awesome is that?

Here are 7 reasons you, too, should lead like a hippo.

  1. The less you talk, the more everyone else will

    When you're seated at the head of the table barking out orders, it should come as no surprise that your team silently nods along, taking notes, and only speaking when spoken to. If you change your approach to that of the hippo, others will step in to fill the silence.

  2. Exposure to more ideas

    Yeah, yeah, we know you’re brilliant. If you’re smart, though, you're hiring people who are also brilliant. By getting them to speak up a more in your meetings, the team is exposed to more ideas than you can contribute. While a leader’s ideas and opinions are typically valued more highly than those of their staff, a hippo leader knows that this is irrational and that the entire team will benefit from all ideas being treated equally regardless of their source.

  3. Showing employees that you value their contributions

    One of the best ways to engage your employees in their work and in improvement is to show them that you truly value their input. This really is the motivation people need to go above and beyond the call of duty. Listening to your employees like a hippo reinforces to them that you value and appreciate it when they go out on a limb to improve their work.

  4. Better solutions to problems

    Have you heard the expression “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts?” This is so true when it comes to solving problems and improving your organization. A team of five people coming together will pretty much always arrive at a better solution together than they would by all attacking the problem separately. By leading like a hippo to encourage increased engagement, you can truly harness the creative potential of your team, and become more than a team of individuals working in parallel.

  5. Improved job satisfaction

    One of the most common reasons people leave their jobs is because they have a problem with their manager. Often, that problem lies in the form of an overbearing leader who leads by decree without regard for the knowledge and experience elf staff. By affording everyone the opportunity to participate in improving their jobs, you’re guaranteed to increase satisfaction and reduce turnover.

  6. Others will take ownership of implementing changes

    You know what's awesome? When people volunteer to take work off your plate. Sure, you could command a meeting and delegate tasks to your subordinates, but wouldn't it be more fun (not to mention better received) if people came to the conclusion of what they should do on their own? By leading like a hippo, your staff will better understand the problems and solutions at hand and will take ownership of following up on those ideas afterward. Of course, it helps to track that in a system like KaiNexus so that you can check in on all of it efficiently.

  7. Developing the leadership skills of others

    Part of your role as a leader is to hone the leadership skills of your staff. What better way to do that than by leading liked a hippo? When you step back to observe, others will have the opportunity to step up and lead. And practice, after all, makes perfect. With a hippo-ish leader like yourself to emulate, your budding leaders are on the path to success.


So. Who’s with me in the hippo movement? Can we please make leading like a hippo the next trend in business management?

The Savvy's Leader's Guide to Employee Engagement


Topics: Leadership

Recent Posts