Whenever I think of teams, team dynamics, and teamwork I immediately think about what we can learn from nature. If we look at plant, animal, and insect groups we can learn a lot…redwoods, meerkats, elephants, ants, bees, orca whales and dolphins to just name a few. One of the most poignant groups of lessons comes from the observation of geese as they fly in formation. I still remember the first time I heard these lessons. Enjoy my rendition of Life Lessons from a Flock of Geese, Author Unknown.
This fall, when you see geese heading south for the winter, honking while flying along in ‘V formation, think about what science has taught us about why they fly that way.
As each bird flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for the bird immediately following it. By flying in a “V” formation, the whole flock can fly at least 71% farther than if each bird flew on its own.
Lesson: People who share a common vision and sense of common direction can get further faster by supporting one another.
When a goose falls out of formation, it feels the resistance of trying to go it alone and it quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of flying with the flock.
Lesson: If we have as much sense as a goose, we will work with others who are going the same way as we are.
When the lead goose gets tired, he rotates back in the wing of the “V” and another goose steps into the point position.
Lesson: It pays to take turns. By delegating critical tasks to all team members, everyone in an organization can grow.
The lead goose (on the point) never honks. The geese behind the leader continue to honk praise and encouragement to the lead goose.
Lesson: The power of praise and recognition is critical to success as people delegate significant projects to one another in an organization.
Sometimes two or three geese break away from the formation to look for a better wind current or a more creative and better way to fly.
Lesson: An effective organization believes in the “culture of celebrated discontent.” It constantly experiments with new ways of being. It encourages innovation.
Finally, when a goose weakens, or is wounded and falls out of formation, two geese fall out 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 they then set out on their own or with another formation until they catch up with the group. Lesson: When tasks are tough, people need to support one another. Delegation and teamwork require follow-up, dialogue, and support.
Teamwork divides the task and multiplies the SUCCESS!