From Bird nest… a corporate message

Why the siblings of some birds fight ruthlessly while their parents and many other adult animals remain calm and peaceful in animal kingdom? Such behaviour is called ‘fratricidal’ in biology (fight and killing among siblings). 


The baby birds (hatchling/nestling) of golden eagle, snowy egret, great spotted cuckoo etc., for example strongly exhibits ‘fratricidal’ behaviour, where the stronger chicks kill the weaker ones. Strangely, the stronger ones attack, sideline and sometime even kill their weaker siblings. They do so only to compete for food and to ensure their chance of survival in the best possible way.


The question is why such fight exists only among the nestling birds (between siblings) and not among the adult birds?  If the corporate HR function knows the answer, they have answer for almost all HR problems in the corporate. 


The nestling birds have the challenge to grow healthy and become an adult bird soon otherwise they might fall to predation by many predatory animals.  Only when they get good food, both in terms of quality and quantity, can became strong and healthy.  Therefore they have to compete rudely and even rudimentarily.  Whereas, for the adult birds, such fight is unwarranted, will be costly and also can be dangerous. 


It is interesting to note that in most corporate, the people in top management behave like an adult golden eagle or snowy egret or spotted cuckoo.  Further, they claim that they are ‘very’ matured, cultured and vision centric and that is why they do not fight like their nestling chicks.  On the contrary, the people at manager and below the manager level easily resort to fights because they lack leadership quality and are not matured as like the people in the top management level.  But the truth is something different.  


The fighting temptation and tendency among people in the lower rank and file is only due to their acute need for survival.  Only when they fight, they get better attention, care and food and hence can grow.  Whereas the people in the top management are like an adult bird and hence cannot afford to fight.  It is not due to their maturity, leadership quality or vision they don’t fight but purely and only due to the possible ill effects of such fight. 


From the theory of ‘fratricidal’ behaviour seen among some birds, only the above management message, the corporate and its HR function must derive and learn.  Because someone is fighting in the corporate, never conclude that they are not matured and lack leadership quality.  Similarly, the people in top management when appear calm and composed, does not mean they are matured, posses high leadership acumen and have vision as well.


Sometime the fight becomes necessary and part of ones survival.  Similarly, avoiding fight also can become necessary for survival for some.  This distinction only the corporate must learn.   If they ever miss this grate management insight from the ‘fratricidal’ behaviour of some birds, instead of making right interpretation and right understanding, only wrong conclusion become the end product.  Such wrong conclusions will only adversely affect the corporate culture.

Dr S Ranganathan, ClinRise Derma Pvt., Ltd., Chennai


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