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Graham, December 7 2021

Feeling Foxy? – or perhaps Hedgehog is more your thing! 

The ancient Greek poet Archilocus of Paros wrote that “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing”.   While the original story or intent behind that moral is lost to history, that little statement has been the source of considerable philosophical and psychological debate as its meaning, and more importantly its applicability to the human condition has been explored.

It is particularly useful, when considering someone’s approach to leadership and strategic thinking styles. In summary:

 The fox knows the details of how to get somewhere rather than knowing where it’s going, whereas the hedgehog knows where it’s going but less idea about how to get there. There is no right or wrong, good or bad.   There are examples of both types making leaders:   Bill Clinton and Richard Branson are considered to have fox tendencies, whereas Ronald Reagan and Steve Jobs can be considered to be hedgehogs. 

Clearly, both animals have positive attributes.  And maybe it is good to aspire to being able to be both simultaneously – to have the big vision, purpose, and momentum of a hedgehog, while having the openness to new ideas and creativity of the fox.  Abraham Lincoln was considered to be a good example of this – he was very focused on pursing the principles of the Declaration of Independence, but to abolish slavery with the 13th Amendment, he had to resort to some very devious means. 

So, are you a fox or a hedgehog?  Or maybe you are a bit of both?  How would you categorise members of your team?  Does that create synergies or conflicts?

Bye for now,


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