Successful Teams Act like Geese

Geese V-FormationHave you ever noticed how a flock of geese always seem to be flying in a “V” formation? Well they do and understanding how and why they do it can help all of our teams.

First of all, studies have shown that a flock of geese flying in formation can fly over 70% farther than a goose flying by itself. This is possible because as the birds flap their wings in unison, the ones in front create an updraft for the ones in back, allowing the ones in back to conserve their energy.

In other words, if you want to go a little faster then go by yourself but if you want to go a lot farther then go with a team.

Secondly, whenever the goose at the point of the V starts to get tired because he is taking on the brunt of all the wind resistance, he drops out of the lead and rotates all the way to the back. Another goose takes its place in the lead and the formation moves forward.

When every teammate is willing to step up and be a leader as well as share whatever hard work is necessary, then that team has a chance to accomplish great things.

Third, all the geese in formation constantly honk while flying. Maybe they are honking encouragement so the leader doesn’t slow down and maybe they are just “singing” a “marching” song like they do in the military. Either way they are constantly communicating with each other no matter how easy or difficult the journey.

Have you ever heard of a great basketball team that did not communicate effectively and constantly both on and off the court?

Lastly, whenever it becomes necessary for a goose to leave the formation, at least one other goose escorts it back safely to the ground and stays with it until it can return to the group. However, the rest of the flock keeps moving.

Great teammates are always supporting each other and looking for ways to help each other become stronger and more effective. But nothing is more important than the group (team) and the inability of one team member to keep up cannot keep everyone else from reaching their ultimate destination.

Is the above story and all of its facts completely true? I honestly don’t know if it is or not but I’m not sure it really matters.

What matters is the lessons that the story contains:

1. Teams can go farther when everyone is working together and heading in the same direction.

2. While everyone on the team should be willing and able to lead, they should also be willing to take on whatever role that will help the team succeed. If that means being out in the forefront then great but it might also mean staying in the background while someone else takes over.

3. Honest and effective coach to coach communication, coach to player communication, and player to player communication are all essential for team success. A silent team is usually not a winning team.

4. Stuff happens. Players sometimes get hurt, become academically ineligible, and/or make bad decisions. Great coaches and teammates should always be there to give whatever help and support is necessary to make the team whole again but at the same time everyone needs to understand that the progress of the team cannot be completely sacrificed for one individual.

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