This morning I enjoyed my first cup of coffee outdoors in many months. I’m so glad Spring has finally arrived. As I sat soaking up the sun and enjoying the quiet of the morning, a flock of geese flew overhead in V formation. Watching geese fly together is one of those moments of wonder and awe for me that connects me to the bigger world. Looking up at the geese, I remembered a video that was shown at a conference many years ago about the science and art of these flying formations – and what they can teach us about teamwork.
Four lessons stuck with me from that video:
- The V formation provides a lifting power for the geese as the flapping of their wings creates an uplift for the bird behind. Working together in this way makes their flight easier and faster than if they flew alone.
- A bird that drops out of the formation works much harder on its own to fly against the resistance and drag created without benefit of the team of geese.
- The geese honk from behind to encourage and support the leaders.
- The lead position is very difficult and tiring. Geese will fly upfront to take the lead position when the leader becomes too fatigued.
All great reminders! Working in concert with a supportive team toward a common goal is a lot easier than going it alone. It takes a great deal of effort and causes unnecessary stress when one breaks away from the team and becomes the “Lone Ranger.” As the leader of a team you take on greater responsibility to direct the team and maintain positive momentum. But it is essential to have trusted team members who can honk from behind as encouragement, and step in to lead the team as needed. And it is essential that you realize when you need to take a break, and then allow yourself to do so.
I did not find the original video I recalled from that conference years ago, but this video also does a great job of telling the story of the teamwork of geese.