I was recently pointing out to my son how geese always seem to fly in the “V” formation. I explained to him that as each bird flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for the bird immediately behind it. By flying in this “V” formation, the whole flock adds a significant amount (up to 70 percent as I researched later) of greater flying range than if an individual bird was flying on its own.
Sharing a common direction and a sense of community gets geese where ever they are going more quickly and easily because they are travelling on the thrust of one another. When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to go it alone – and quickly tries to get back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird in front.
What can we as business teams learn from the geese? How much easier does life and business become if we stay in formation and aligned with other people who are headed the same way we are? How often do we check with our teams that we are indeed flying in formation?
Interestingly also, when the head goose gets tired, it moves back in the formation and another goose flies point. It is sensible to take turns doing demanding jobs, whether with people or with geese flying south. A leader’s job is tough. But a leader’s job is not always to be at the front – sometimes leadership happens from within the team.
Finally, and this is important, when a goose gets sick or is wounded by gunshot, and falls out of formation, two other geese fall out with that goose and follow it down to lend help and protection. They stay with the fallen goose until it is able to fly or until it dies: and only then do they launch out on their own, or with another formation to catch up with their group. This is really what team work is about.
You don’t always have to look far and wide to understand the secrets of great and winning teams. Sometimes you just have to look up!