Orca Leadership


JMT August 2014 054What do you see in this photograph?

Duh, I see Killer Whales, coming up for air. 

Okay, you are right, but there is a whole lot more going on here, that you do not see, and that is what I learned a couple of weeks ago while I was up just off of Orcas Island in Puget Sound. I’d like to explain what I am calling:                   



Killer Whales or Orcas live in very communal tight family pods and they remain with their families their entire lives.  The males stay pretty much with their mother.  They do go off to mate but they always come back to their family pod. 

In the photo above is a very unique family pod which has formed over a long period of time.  The Orca with the white spot is affectionately known locally as “Granny” and she is 103 years of age and is the matriarch of a pod.  The large male swimming directly behind her is known as M-45 (M for his original pod and 45 for his age – they know him by his fluke markings)  The other Orcas in the shot are other males in the pod of younger ages. 

Got it?  Now to the Orca Leadership Lesson.

M-45 has got what it takes to be a great Leader! He’s made of the “Right Stuff”! When he became of age and  he swam away to mate, upon his return to his pod, he found his own mother was dying.  He assumed Leadership.  [The marine biologists who study whales up in Puget Sound relayed this story to those of us on this whale watching trip.] For many days M-45 put himself at great risk by positioned his body underneath that of his dying mothers, to keep her afloat so that she could breath.  When she could no longer survive, and she took her last breath,  he lowered her on his back to the bottom to her final resting place.  This behavior was a first for Orca behavior.

M-45 now was without a matriarch and without a pod family, he needed to find a new pod, which he did and made himself at home.  Unfortunately, this same thing happened again twice; over the course of his 45 year life span.  The female matriarch began to die and he again exhibited this act of supreme sacrifice and leadership, support, and respect for the matriarch and life within the pod.  Once again the scientists were amazed at this one  – Orca M-45

Is a Leader Born or can a Leader be taught to be a Leader?  Think about this one in terms of those in LEADERSHIP in your team and you.

So what can you and I learn from M-45 about Leadership? 

How are we different in our own “pod” in our businesses, in our own family “pod”? 

Are you willing to be a servant leader willing to sacrifice? 

Let’s get back on the whale watching boat before the pod dives again and we loose sight of these magnificent Orcas and we have to head back into port once again.  Look at the photo again at the top of this post.  There is Granny at 103  with M-45 right there beside her in support.  Do you have any doubt about if he will be there when she needs him after what I relayed to you about the observation in his behavior based on what the scientists have observed of him over the past 45 years of his life? 

What about you?

What would those around you say about you and your behavior your track record, and how trey can depend on you as a LEADER?


                                                                                                                            John Maxwell

On October 10th, you have an opportunity to be a part of a wonderful LEADERSHIP EVENT – L2 LEARN – LEAD!












1 Comment

  1. William Diven

    Great story on a couple of levels if not more. Leadership for sure but devotion and self sacrifice beyond all reason.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *