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Which animal are you?

Where in the wild kingdom does your leadership style fit?

Can the animal world offer up human leadership comparisons? Some seem to think so. Humans and animals share much common biology, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that we also share some of the same personality traits, explains Kevin McGraw, Ph.D., an integrative behavioral ecologist.

“Humans are a pretty young species, compared to other species on Earth, and we traditionally have many of the behaviors that other animals had first,” says McGraw. “We likely inherited our behaviors and tendencies from the common ancestors with those species.”

Take this quiz to find out where you fall in the wild kingdom when it comes to leadership.


1. If you get into a big argument with someone at work, it's:

a) Shocking. You rarely interact with others and avoid getting emotional.

b) OK. You need to argue sometimes in order to get things out in the open, as long as you make up afterward.

c) Fine, as long as you win, and your victory keeps everyone else quiet.

d) Unusual. You’re very submissive when confronted, and hate conflict.

e) Fabulous, particularly if you catch the other person by surprise when you decimate him.


2. If someone else finishes your ice cream in the freezer, right before you're about to eat it, you:

a) Impulsively and immediately express your anger.

b) Say nothing. It’s not a big deal. Why make waves?

c) Remain calm, but say something so the perpetrator knows she made an error.

d) Say nothing but silently vow to take her ice cream next time.

e) Watch to see what others do and follow their example.


3. The job you would despise most is:

a) Trailblazing tour guide leader.

b) Fascist dictator.

c) Author of a tell-all memoir.

d) Domestic servant.

e) Attendant at an amusement park.


4. When someone on your team makes a mistake, you:

a) Criticize and punish to keep him in line.

b) Say nothing, but ambush him later when he is least expecting it.

c) Watch to see how others respond to figure out what to do.

d) Happily take the blame. We’re all at fault sometimes.

e) Use it as a teachable moment everyone can learn from.


5. A typical fantasy for you involves:

a) World domination.

b) A day in which you don’t have to think or make decisions.

c) Negotiating peace talks.

d) A pool hall filled with unsuspecting novice players.

e) Sacrificing yourself for another’s happiness.


6. On social media, you typically post things that:

a) Reveal nothing about you.

b) Make you fit in well with most of your friends.

c) Make you appear strong and appealing.

d) Inspire people to come together.

e) You don't post, like or share anything.


7. When a delicious appetizer arrives at your table and there isn't enough to go around, you:

a) Parcel out small pieces to each person who raises a hand.

b) Let everyone else eat it, feigning that you’re already full.

c) Watch to see how others respond and follow their example.

d) Take charge and decide who gets to eat what.

e) Try to sneak a big bite when no one’s looking.


8. When supervising a work emergency that involves everyone working on task quickly, you’ll most likely:

a) Encourage cooperation with a shared dialogue and open discussion.

b) Intimidate everyone with your forceful personality.

c) Micromanage your team by standing guard.

d) Assume everyone will get his or her job done and leave them alone.

e) Spy at a distance, until you catch someone making an error, then come in for the kill. 


9. When a young inexperienced person is placed on your team, your first thought is:

a) She better follow my orders.

b) Hmm. I’ll wait and see how others respond.

c) Everyone has something of value to add. I just have to find out what it is.

d) If something goes wrong, I’ll take the fall.

e) I’ll act nice, but gather evidence to ambush her later.


10. At the end the day, you feel most successful if:

a) Everyone got along.

b) You came out on top.

c) Everyone left you alone.

d) You fit in with everyone else.

e) No one could tell what you were thinking.



Tally your answers by color to discover your dominant animal leadership type. The color you chose most often will reveal your animal instincts when it comes to being a leader: 


Proud, strong and domineering, you are most comfortable being in charge of a group where there is little room for questioning authority. You work well when you are given complete control of a situation and don’t have to consult others for advice. For a more balanced approach, try to listen to what others have to contribute; you could be missing out on a lot of helpful input.


Submissive, shy and concerned with minutiae, you are much better at following instructions than stepping out to lead a team, and you pride yourself in your ability to follow rules. Although your obedience and attention to detail can be appreciated, in order to learn to be a better leader, try to tune into your own ideas and assert a few of your own opinions once in a while. 

Bonobo chimpanzee:

Cooperative, communicative and social, you do well working in a team. You are concerned with making sure everyone has a voice and can contribute to the group’s activities. For a more balanced approach, learn to differentiate between the need to make others happy and making more effective decisions that can help the group. 

Great white shark:

Aggressive, smart and deceptive, you don’t like to feel exposed, but prefer waiting in the wings gathering information until it’s an ideal time to come out and ambush the group. Although you’re a very good strategist, you’d improve by being more transparent and trusting other people.

Redback spider:

Not an animal, exactly, but quiet, independent and self-sacrificing, you work best when you’re completely alone, left entirely to your own devices. You have a hard time contributing to a group effort due to your loner nature. In order to become a better leader, you should work toward becoming more cooperative and learn to share more of yourself with the team.