Have you ever looked up at the sky and marveled at the majestic V-formation of Canada Geese as they migrate south for the winter? Their journey is a feat of navigation and a deeply inspiring example of working together. So how on earth do they do it?
When we turn to science, we discover that they have a substance known as magnetite, which is located just above their beaks. This mineral helps them determine the Earth’s magnetic field so that they know which way is true north; so, in other words they trust their internal GPS. Unbelievable instincts!
What is also fascinating is how they share the leadership role. When the goose in front starts to tire, it falls back and the next goose in line takes its place. For years coaches have been using this as a metaphor for great teamwork. One afternoon from my kayak, I actually saw the transition happening. The flock overhead flew so close I could actually hear the wind rushing through their feathers. And then I saw it: there was no squawking or carrying on, no power struggle, it was a seamless transition. Surprisingly effortless!
But there’s even more to this story than meets the eye; when geese fly in a V-formation they tap into the laws of aerodynamics. The birds actually catch an uprush of air from the wings of the bird ahead them, much like cycle racers do when drafting. In addition, they time the beat of their wings to maximize the use of their energy. Remarkable efficiency!
Nature is our greatest teacher. Paying attention to our feathered friends can provide inspiration for leaders.
Each team member also has their own inner GPS, but can’t access it if they are threatened or over managed. How can you calm their inner critic and open the door to their deeper instincts?
Great leaders bring out the best in their team so that they can step back and let others step forward into the spotlight. How can you create a culture of shared leadership in your organization?
Sometimes the team is flapping and exerting more energy than needed to get the job done. What efficiencies exist that you haven’t taken advantage of?
As a leader, there is a deep inner knowing within you. If you would like to explore these big questions, give me a shout!