The ant and the mentor

22 juillet 2021
Marie Croes
  • Do you recognize yourself in the ant?

    You are one of the ants walking in the row (read: you are busy with your daily routines as a manager, deep in the trenches).

    ⚡ Then suddenly, a big leaf falls on the road (read: an unexpected event happens in or around your team). Plenty of examples:
    🌩️ An important project runs overtime
    🌩️ A conflict between two team members escalates
    🌩️ The C-suite decided to implement a never-seen-before cost-cutting plan
    🌩️ Your most crucial stakeholder turns against you in the roll-out of your project
    🌩️ After a feedback meeting with one of your team members, he/she starts to sabotage you

    📣 I am also sure you understand the ant’s reaction in the video: “We are stuck, I am lost, where is the known path? What do I have to do?”

    📣 Wouldn’t it be great that when you hit an obstacle, another ant jumps out of the bushes like in the video: “Do not panic, stay calm, we will go around the leaf.”

    🦸 Even if that advice scares you, he/she guides you step by step around the obstacle and encourages you to get out of your comfort zone. He helps to focus on the new path.
    🦸 And as in the video, the ant who helped you overcome the obstacle is discrete about it (“We don’t have to involve the queen in this”).

    Well, the ant in the video is like a mentor in business life.

Struggles of a manager

Managers are

  • new in this role


    • lack self-confidence
    • don’t know how to go from being a colleague to being a boss
    • need to loosen up on the command & control leadership style
    • must let go of the (technical) expert status
    • cannot give or accept constructive feedback
    • feel pressure to perform as manager
    • have difficulty building relationships
    • want to be liked by everyone or want to be the ‘bad boss’
    • play the hero
  • are struggling


    • stay too involved in operations
    • have trouble prioritizing
    • cannot delegate
    • fear conflict situations
    • disconnect from the team
    • deal with flawed strategic thinking
    • do not relate to higher management
    • lack clear communication skills
    • remain not self-aware
    • avoid difficult conversations
    • miss political antennas
    • ...
  • capable of more


    • need mental preparation as successor
    • need to be able to lead big changes ahead
    • need to learn to be emotionally resilient and in control
    • need to learn to make big decisions fast without all the information
    • must become persuasive presenters
    • need to learn how to cultivate their own personal brand
    • need to learn how to lead by example
    • manage by trust, not by fear
    • need to overly develop empathy
    • ...
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