For centuries, animals have been used as symbols for examples of strength, courage and perseverance. Just look at any pro sporting team and you will see this first hand. You have Lions, Panthers, Falcons and Colts along with many others. These are the symbols of togetherness, teamwork and the banner for which they all fight.
In business, just like sports, organizations are trying to find ways to unify their teams and professionals under one banner. They are striving to create cultures of togetherness and strength. If you were to actually pick the best example of this in nature, there is one group you would probably overlook. Although they might not be the fiercest, they are the epitome of togetherness, strength and determination.
3 leadership lessons from a flock of geese.
- Leaders lead
When look at a flying V, you might not see the complexity in the formation. You see, each goose is strategically aligned just behind and below the goose directly in front of them. This allows for significant reduction in wind resistance; however there is one goose who takes it all on head first.
The lead goose does not have it easy. It is his job to make it easier for everyone else by setting up the point of the formation. This goose charges out ahead, sets the course and direction, and takes on the full force. It is his job to get them all moving in the right direction, in formation as a team.
Just like in any organization, the leader must lead. The leader must be willing to take the brunt of the resistance and charge ahead. In doing so, he allows the others on his team the ability to operate with minimal resistance. He shows that not only is he a part of the team, but that he is willing to do everything it takes to set them on the right path for success no matter how hard it gets.
- Encourage everyone….even the leader
When geese are flying south for the winter, you can constantly hear them honking at each other. This honking, if understood, is amazing. They are honking encouragement to one another. You see, for geese to fly up to 3,000 miles, they have push each other. They have to make sure everyone is staying in alignment. When a particular goose is getting tired, the others will make sure to encourage it to keep pushing. When the leader gets tired, the other geese continue to encourage to keep pushing forward a little longer.
In business, individuals or departments are not always the most supportive of one another. The business world has become a “me” first environment where everyone is looking out for themselves. This dissonance detracts from the greater mission and ultimately can cause a loss in talent due to a corrosive culture.
If departments and individuals took on the mindset of geese, they would realize that everyone should be encouraging each other. There should be a resonance of positivity and togetherness that comes from knowing they are all on the same page, striving for the same goal. Although each individual or department might have separate initiatives, they are all a part of the same overall team. By developing an atmosphere of encouragement and togetherness, these companies will find it easier to cross departmental lines and ultimately achieve more.
- Everyone Leads
One thing geese know, is that the task of flying as far south as what they do is hard. The lead geese who starts the journey, cannot lead the entire time. Due to taking on the head winds and being the start of the formation, this goose can’t last forever. Eventually, once he is to tired, this goose will move to the back of the formation and another goose takes the lead. This happens continually throughout their journey until they reach their destination.
Imagine for a second if you had a team full of people willing to take the lead when necessary. What would it look like if everyone had ownership over the mission and team? It would be amazing. Everyone would use their strengths to take the team to new heights and continually push towards success.
This example is developed from the leader himself by developing his team with a sense of ownership. This takes a lot of humility from the leader to allow others decision making ability. This also takes a lot of humility from each team member to realize the responsibility they carry for one another and making sure each team member is performing at their highest ability.
We can learn a lot from geese and how they work together to travel thousands of miles every year. Learning how to lead, encourage and create an atmosphere where everyone is working towards one goal is something every business strives for. All they need to do is look towards the sky and implement the strategies that make geese one of the best examples of teamwork and togetherness in nature.