Good or bad to have clown fish leaders in corporate

May 7 10:35 2013 Ranganathan Print This Article

The clown fish or anemone fish conveys an important management message to the corporate that....

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Certain corporate leaders smartly follow the leadership style of ‘clown fish’.  The question is whether we should call such leaders ‘chameleon’ or ‘clown fish’?  To answer the question correctly,Guest Posting one should know the real definition of the clown fish leadership style and what it means to the corporate.


Clown fishes, otherwise called as ‘anemone’ fish are small, brilliantly coloured aquatic animal more often seen in places where sea anemones densely grow.   Interestingly the clown fishes are ‘hermaphrodites’ having the sex organs of both male and female present in the same animal.


The school of clown fish is represented by a single dominant female and multiple males.  The female is bigger in size than the males.  The female clown fish is the one that controls the group by occupying the highest position in hierarchy. 


The interesting thing about the clown fish society is that, when the dominant female dies due to some reason, the dominant male in the group immediately sense the leadership gap and become female clown fish.  Once it changes its gender from male to female, it develops all the characteristics of female and become the leader of the group.


This typical leadership behaviour is seen in many people in corporate.  To get the position and power, all of a sudden, they totally change their behaviour, attitude, qualities, working style etc.  People may wonder how these people can change so ludicrously.   These people cannot be compared to chameleons as the changes they exhibit are not ‘reversible’ and ‘temporary’ in nature.      


Many people in the corporate may wonder as how to describe some leaders who exhibits such an unimaginable character change?   Is such people worth to be called as leaders?


The issue needs to be understood from the larger perspective.  In the clown fish school, many males are around a single female not only for achieving their mating success, but also seeing an appropriate opportunity to become the leader of the entire group.  They are hermaphrodites.  What we see them as male is only what is seen or expressed.  What is hidden is not seen or understood.  When an appropriate opportunity is available, the unseen qualities dominate the behaviour.


They were waiting for the opportunity to shift from one phase to another.  Understand the people around you.  Do not go by what you see but always remember the existence of something beyond and totally different from what is seen or understood. 


If the understanding is not correct, the mind would always love to settle with ‘blames’ and ‘complains’ about others.   Learn from nature about different aspects of management; indeed learn from clown fishes as well.  Such learning will certainly help you to understand the different leadership dimensions.


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


Learn more from the following management books


  1. Jungle wisdom for corporate management – lessons from the university of nature by Swami Sukhabodhananda and Dr S Ranganathan
  2. Nature – The Entrepreneur by Dr S Ranganathan







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

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