Lessons in Leadership

For those of you who have witnessed firsthand the symmetric formation (echelons) of migratory birds in flight, you know it is one nature’s many marvels. The echelon’s primary function is to ensure a more efficient flight however, if we take a more intuitive look, there are many elements at work besides just physics alone. These systematic formations are neither by coincidence nor accident but rather spectacular displays of selfless leadership and cooperative teamwork.

The lead goose will tire as he pulls the weight of those behind him, and when he does, that leader must be willing to fall back and rely on a trusted member of the team to take the wheel. A strong leader will not only assemble the most effective team of capable counterparts, but he/she must also understand each member’s weakness, and most importantly those of his/ her own self. A true leader will instinctively trust each and every member of the team and is quite aware that without these members, the group will fall short of their desired destination. Leaders and followers in nature perform roles that know few boundaries.

The symmetric formations are said to facilitate communication and due to the frequent changing of leaders in the echelons, it is crucial that the flock work towards a common level of communication. Just as with groups or teams of people, a leader must use methods and means of communications that each member fully understands. This cooperation must start at the top, but must be consistent throughout. If the communication patterns are kept uniform from within, things run smoothly and the group’s haven lies just over the horizon.

An effective leader understands that nothing will be accomplished without a team of committed followers. A leader without a dynamic team goes nowhere, just as a lead goose with a lazy flock, will not get too far the ground. The leader-follower role in the echelon, in an athletic team, at work, in politics and even within the family unit, involves each member working together, equally committed to the same vision or goal, and committed to each other. Leaders who share a COMMON direction with their team, have the ability to instill good COMMUNicate among their group and are able to ignite a sense of COMMUNity, will in fact succeed.