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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

5 Leadership Lessons from Geese by Janet Callaway

To build a successful business in most any industry, a person must become a leader. Yet, with experts often giving conflicting advice, becoming a leader is difficult. Being a good leader is even harder. If we are patient, observe and think we oftentimes find that Mother Nature gives us the very answer that we seek.

She does it again with the leadership lessons of geese. Most all of us have either seen in person or in pictures, geese flying in the “V” formation. When you understand the Why of the formation, you will have learned valuable leadership and teamwork lessons.

Back in 1972, Dr. Robert McNeish, a science teacher from Baltimore, Maryland, wrote “Lessons from Geese” which explains the Why that are the lessons for us.

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

Lesson: People who share a common direction and sense of 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.  Just like we do in social networking situations.

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 skills, capabilities and unique arrangements 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 honking is encouraging. In groups where there is encouragement the production 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 with it until it dies or is able to 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.

Great lessons, don't you think?


  1. LOL, It's funny because when I was a little girl I use to think that the geese was were making a V shape that stood for Virginia. Great post Janet and thanks for sharing. I love the exmale of leadership you gave by using geese and the V formation.

  2. Thx, Renita. I love that you saw the V formation as standing for Virginia. Had I known that or even thought of that, it would have been fun to incorporate it in the story.