Workaholic Tuesdays: 7 Lessons from an Ant

Tuesday, 29 April 2014 - 7:34pm IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

From leaderless efficiency to intuitive teamwork, we have a lot to learn from the humble ant
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'Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise,' says Proverbs 6:6. So, we do a bit of reading on ant behaviour and this is what we find:

Leaderless efficiency: Ant colonies have no leaders, yet everyone goes about their own task because it seems to matter to them and to the colony. Are you in a job that makes you want to be productive with or without supervision? Give yourself a pat on the back. You're in the right place.

Division of labour: Each ant has a task to do and does it without being poked, prodded or reminded. Responsibilities sometimes change depending on the colony's requirement. Do you know what's expected of you? Clarity of purpose and defining what you bring to the team are crucial for success.

Scheduling: Ants wake up and go about their work in a predetermined order. Have you figured out your most productive times of day/night and re-organised your task list appropriately? It's only sensible to schedule the most challenging task for when your brain is working at full capacity, don't you think?

All jobs are equal: In the ant world, there appears to be no job hierarchy; each job is as important as the next. Do you believe your job is crucial to your organisation's success? Understanding what makes your contribution meaningful, will give you the motivation you need to succeed.

Learning: Ants train new recruits by having them tag along with a senior on tasks such as foraging. The senior tunes in to the trainee's progress, slowing down when she lags behind and speeding up when she's catching up. Have you identified a mentor who is invested in your growth?

Save for the winter, but live in the present: Instead of dozing off in times of plenty, ants save up for times of nothingness. Perhaps you can start saving up for that car you want, invest in further education, or start a pension fund instead of splurging on Starbucks coffee and your 17th pair of shoes.

New beginnings: New queens often leave with a few of the workers to start new colonies. Is there room to grow in the job you're in? If not, perhaps, it's time to start a new colony. Do make sure you really are born to be queen ant, and are prepared for the labour it involves.

If you're a keen observer of the animal world and have insights to share, do write to us at

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