Continuing from Monday’s blog post.

Learning Leadership & Teamwork from the Migrating Geese

If you were to have the chance to observe geese take flight from the Canadian shoreline, they lift off from the water in squawking chaos. Yet, in just a matter of seconds, you will be able to notice that a line begins to emerge from the mass of brown feathers. This line straightens, arches slightly, and then, as on cue, bends sharply to form a perfect V shape.

Canada geese fly in a V formation for a very practical reason: a flock of geese flying in formation can move faster and maintain flight longer than any one goose flying alone. Synergy is a law of nature, and synergy is one of the main ingredients in leadership and  teamwork.

As leaders, we have a lot to learn from these geese.

•    By flying in a “V” formation, the whole flock adds at least 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew on its own.
  In other words, birds of the feather flock together (in this case, geese of the feather). If you and your team share the same goal and are heading in the same direction, momentum exists. Momentum makes big obstacles seem smaller, and far distance seems nearer. It also makes the leader look better than he is. That’s why momentum is always known as the leader’s best friend. Leaders should strive to build positive momentum within the team he leads.

•    When the lead goose gets tired, he rotates back in the wing and another goose flies point and takes the lead.
  When working as a team, we need to be reminded that the goal is more important than the role. It doesn’t matter how smart and talented we are individually, one brilliant individual does not make the team.

A group of average performers with a clear sense of  direction will out-perform the one-man band anytime. Share responsibilities with your team, leverage of each other’s strength and complement each other’s weaknesses.

Leadership is also membership.  When a member in the team is poised in better position to take the lead, the leader should rotate back in the wing, lending support and    allowing leadership to happen within membership in the team.  Encourage all members to take leadership for in moments when the lead goose gets tired, another goose flies point position.

•    Whenever a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to go it alone and quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front.
  Granted, everyone has their own goals and personal focus.  Individuals must align their personal goals with that of the team.  Leaders must seek out, understand and align  individuals to the team goals.  When individuals are not aligned, the entire team may lose. Leaders, go beyond the superficial relationship and really get to know your people inside-out.  Understand them, their personality, strengths and weaknesses as well as what lights their fire and fuel their motivation.  Build solid relationship, trust and be trustworthy, connect professionally and personally.

•    These geese honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.
  Encouragement is the oxygen for the soul. When you notice a team member is down and not performing as he or she should, leverage on the trust you have build and ignite the motivation within them. People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care. Guide them, and whenever they go a bit     off-track, “honk” at them to provide feedback so you can coach and your team members can learn. “Honk” also to reinforce on the right things being done, “Honk” to encourage the right behavior and action.  Let your team know you’re there to support them, let them know you care for them.

•    Finally, when a goose gets sick, or is wounded by gunshot, and falls out, two geese fall out of formation and follow him down to help and protect him. They stay with him until he is either able to fly or until he is dead, and then they launch out on their own or with another formation until they catch up with their group.  
Members in team are often assigned and engaged in different roles.  All roles must be within contact distance so everyone knows what everyone is doing and are updated with the latest happenings.  Leaders must be the bridge of communication among members, be observant and knows who is falling out of formation for whatever reason and then assign help and support to protect members in need.  What is the use of teamwork when individuals fan only for themselves?

When you perform a good deed to a person who is in great need, you are sowing seeds of greatness indeed! Not only will it strengthen the bond you share, you will have the contentment not many people experience when they go to bed at night – you have added value to someone. Always reach out for someone but not with reward in mind. The act of giving already begins the process of receiving – When you give, you shall receive.