At some point we’ve probably all seen the spectacular sight of geese flying together in a V. Why do they do this and what can we learn about leadership from it?
- Each bird flies slightly above the bird in front of them, reducing wind resistance.
- The geese take turns being the leader, falling back when they get tired. This means they can fly for a long time before they need to rest.
- The V formation makes it easier to keep track of every bird in the group. Flying in formation helps each member to communicate and coordinate with the group more effectively.
Just as the birds fly together to create less resistance, if as a leader we can inspire and motivate others to share a common direction and work cohesively towards that goal, we will get there much quicker and with better outcomes.
When geese are flying together, if a bird gets tired or tries to resist the will of the group, it feels the drag of the other birds pulling it back into formation. In our workplace we need to stay close to those with the same goals and aspirations as they are heading where we want to go.
Geese use a distributed leadership model. When the leading goose gets tired, it swaps places with another member of the team so that it can support from behind and recharge itself. This reminds us that a distributed leadership model is the most effective in building a strong team. Each person bringing their own valuable skills and ideas, each leading when they are the best person to do so.
Geese honk to encourage those in front to keep up their speed. We should ensure we speak out to encourage others to be their best. This supportive environment will allow team members to flourish and feel valued. Ensure that your “honking” isn’t negative and accusatory as this will result in a demotivated team that lacks purpose.
Finally, when a goose gets sick or falls behind, two other geese break away from the flock and stay with it, either until it dies or is strong enough to re-join the group. When members of our team are struggling, we need to stand by them and support them until they can perform at their best again. Good leadership means being there for people when the chips are down, not just when they are helping us be successful.
These lessons from geese are encapsulated in our 4 module Developing Leadership interactive online course.
Module 1 – What is Leadership?
This module will enable you to develop an understanding of what it means to be a leader, considering styles of leadership and deciding what type of leader you need to be. This thinking and reflection will form the foundation of your developing leadership journey.
Module 2 – Establishing Leadership
This second module examines personal development planning and enables you to develop your own leadership vision. This is where the difference between leadership and management becomes apparent, these are the activities that will ensure you have followers.
Module 3 – Leading Effectively
It’s no good having a fantastic vision if you can’t communicate that effectively and then manage the workload of the team to execute the end goal. Module 3 explores how to lead by example, motivate a team and manage tasks effectively.
Module 4 – “Future-proof” Leadership
You’re now leading a great team effectively, but what happens when there is significant change? Leadership learning is a life-long activity that requires an understanding of that learning journey. Good leaders are also constantly developing their team so that they are ready for changes in personnel or in the tasks being asked of them. This final module helps leaders prepare their team for change and ensures that organisations don’t loose highly effective leadership when personnel change.
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