Byron's Babbles

The Leadership Tornado

Posted in Communication, Compassion, Empathy, Empowerment, Global Leadership, Leadership by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on November 26, 2020

This week I got to witness one of nature’s fascinating events – a “Canada Goose tornado.” Yes. That’s what it is called! I first heard the noise of hundreds of Canada Geese honking a mile overhead, then I saw it – what looked like a large tornado in the sky, ever changing and in constant motion, but hovering in one place. Then every few moments a group of 20-25 would break off and head south in their famous “v” pattern. This went on for probably 10-15 minutes until every goose became a part of a group. The sheer noise of the event was incredible. Geese are definitely communicators. The honking noises are called “contact calls” which help them stay together. It was quite an event and I tried to get a good picture, and have shared what I got as the featured picture of this post.

It’s always been interesting to me how successful geese are with no hierarchy. They mate for life and usually keep the family unit together returning to the same breeding ground each year. There’s no ‘leader’ for the entire migratory flock, they take it in turns, when one goose gets tired, it falls back and another moves in front. Are you catching this? Everyone is a leader. Everyone provides leadership at the right moment, when it is needed. When the lead goose tires, it rotates back into the formation and another goose flies to the point position. They fly in “v”s as this creates the best uplift draft for each goose by being placed at the wingtip of the bird in front which minimises wind drag and thus saves energy. By flying in a “v” formation, the whole flock adds 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew alone. The reduced drag produced by the wing tip vortex of the bird in front can bring about a 50% energy savings.

It is also interesting to note that if a goose falls out of formation for any reason (gets sick or wounded) two geese drop out of formation and accompany it to help and protect. These two stay with it until it is able to fly again. When that day arrives the three will group up with another formation or catch up and join their original gaggle. It is amazing the example geese give us for empathy and compassion. They truly take care of each other. It would serve us well on this Thanksgiving Day to reflect on this.

Additionally, with our son home from college for Thanksgiving, it is good to have the migrating family unit back together – I’m thankful for that, today. I’m also thankful that I saw the “goose tornado” this week to remind me that leaders rotate, empower, delegate, and even step down when it’s in the best interest of the team. How often do we see this taking place among organizational leaders? The best teams are well trained and developed in order to achieve true empowerment. Is your “v” formation flying with energy saving efficiency?

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