May 01, 2010

May 2010 – Inspiration for Leaders

"It's far more impressive when others discover your good qualities without your help."-- Judith Martin

This is the month we sit back and revel in our achievements from this past League year. We take time to tie up loose ends, prepare to sit down with the incoming leader who will fill our shoes, and pass along all the tidbits that will set them up for success. I know you guys are great leaders (I’ve seen you work!) and I trust that you will take the time to share what really worked and what really didn’t work. It’s critical that the League learn from the past so we can enhance the League experience for everyone. No one wants to experience challenges that could be avoided… and we all want each other to experience success.

I set aside a little time for my own reflection recently – and yes, it may have coincided with the task of submitting my end-of-year notes – but I just want to thank you for looking at this leadership inspiration from time to time. It has been a fun “extra” for me to put together throughout the year, and I hope it’s made you smile and think and maybe become a more confident leader too.

Here is something I have been waiting to share in this forum. You may have seen or heard if before, but it’s an effective way to think about leadership and the role each of us play in the “big picture.”

Lessons From Geese

Fact 1: As each goose flap its wings it creates an“uplift” for the birds that follow. By flying in a “V” formation, the whole flock adds 71% greater range than if each bird flew alone.

Lesson: People who share a common sense of direction and community can get where they are going quicker and easier because they are traveling on the thrust of one another.

Fact 2: When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of flying alone. It quickly moves back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front of it.

Lesson: If we have as much sense as a goose, we stay in formation with those headed where we want to go. We are willing to accept their help and give our help to others.

Fact 3: When the lead goose tires, it rotates back into the formation and another goose flies to the point position.

Lesson: It pays to take turns doing the hard tasks and sharing leadership, as with geese, people are interdependent on each other’s skill, capabilities and unique arrangement of gifts, talents or resources.

Fact 4: The geese flying in formation honk to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.

Lesson: We need to make sure our honking is encouraging. In groups where there is encouragement, the productivity is much greater. The power of encouragement (to stand by one’s heart or core values and encourage the heart and core of others) is the quality of honking we seek.

Fact 5: When a goose gets sick, wounded or shot down, two geese drop out of formation and follow it down to help and protect it. They stay until it dies or can fly again. Then they launch out with another formation or catch up with the flock.

Lesson: If we have as much sense as geese, we will stand by each other in difficult times as well as when we are strong.

“Lessons from Geese” was transcribed from a speech given by Angeles Arrien at the 1991 Organizational Development Network and is based on the work of Milton Olson.

All the best to you as you wrap your year up and move forward. Let’s take these lessons from geese and “honk” (in a “v” formation) for each other as the year comes to an end on May 31st. (Totally kidding about the honking…)

Thank you, thank you for all that you’ve done – and will do – for our League!