Are you a bear, rhino, hedgehog or monkey? The characteristics of “business beasts” explained

A tiger cub at Banham Zoo. Picture: Sonya Duncan

A tiger cub at Banham Zoo. Picture: Sonya Duncan - Credit: Eastern Daily Press � 2015

They say its a jungle out there, but what exactly are the characteristics of the big beasts in business?

Never fear – a new guide has been published aiming to help you separate the lions from the tigers – or the donkeys – in the boardroom.

Inspired by Gerry Brown's book The Independent Director: The Non-Executive Director's Guide to Effective Board Presence, the list from Platypus PR identifies and explains the animals (and politics) of the executive suite.

Here are the beasts to look out for:

Rhino: Aggressive, inclined to argue and a nightmare to work with, but often knowledgeable.


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Tiger: Looks the part, very political, and attacks rivals with savagery and cunning strategy. Often vain and can refuse to mentor staff.

Paper lion: Often a chairman. Thinks they are king of the jungle but can often just be a superannuated figurehead.

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Donkey: Willing and dependable but slow. Often verbose, but too quick with answers.

Fox: Devious and determined to undermine the leadership. Likes to display own knowledge, usually to the disadvantage of others.

Monkey: Know-it-all, often popular, obsessed with latest – preferably digital – fad. Likely to dress like a hipster or sport a beard.

Cuckoo: Free rider. Pragmatic, sneaky and soon escapes before getting found out. Talks about digital incessantly. Usually called a 'disrupter' or something similarly faux heroic in media profiles.

Hedgehog: Prickly, unreceptive to change, unwilling to engage and definitely not inclined to be helpful.

Giraffe: Lofty, superior, above-it-all and non-participant – possibly a chairman-in-waiting or Brexit negotiator.

Hippo: Likes to wallow, loses interest and often dozes off.

Pig: Judged by having noses in the excessive (or industry benchmarked) salary trough, or by size of pay-outs for success-free performance and/or the weak metrics of long-term incentive plans. Business life takes place in a sty.

Wide-mouthed frog: Talks about anything except the topic in hand, best known to outsiders.

Bear: Analytical, collegiate, observant and results-oriented strategic thinker. Often a truly independent director.

Gazelle: Young, new or part-time. Not necessarily shy, but a nightmare colleague as they might wake other animals.

Platypus: Adaptable and creative. Looks weird, works hard and can be wild.

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