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Like clockwork each year, we are greeted with the breathtaking sight of a flock of Canada geese winging their way southward in their characteristic “V” formation.

There are actually some wonderful lessons geese can teach us about working together as a team.  Here are just a few:

Geese position themselves behind and a bit to the side of the goose that is ahead of them so they can pick up the updraft from the swirl of air made by each beating wing.  They also time the rhythm of their wing beats to so they can take maximum advantage of this upwelling of air.  Geese that fly in formation extend their flying range by 71% – compared to a single goose flying on its own.

Goose Lesson 1: By working together towards a common purpose we can harness our collective energy and accomplish much more than each of one of us alone.

The head goose expends the most energy as he or she battles against the wind to lead the way. Geese tend to share the head position.  The head goose, after a time, will tire and peel off, to allow another goose lead the way.

Goose Lesson 2:  It helps when we all share the task of leadership.  It is up to all of us with our own unique attributes and skills to take on some kind of leadership role.  The only question we need to ask in order to become a leader is: “how can I help?”

Geese have an incredible work ethic.  They’ve been known to fly more than 1,200 kilometers in a single 24 hour period if conditions are right.  That is further than many of us would be willing to drive in a day!

Goose Lesson 3:  We can accomplish a great deal if we have a clear goal and destination; if we are focused on the task at hand and if we work hard with all of our team mates to get there.

It is amazing just how much noise a flock of geese makes.  The males call out in a lower pitched two noted “honk.”  The females have a slightly higher pitched sounding honk.  They honk in order to encourage the geese further up front to keep up their speed.  Scientists determined that geese make many other vocalizations as well.  Geese are constantly supporting one another by their calls.

Goose Lesson 4:  We all work more effectively when we support one another.  A hearty “good for you” or “well done” gives each of us a bit more confidence and a little more energy to work even harder. Don’t underestimate the value of encouragement.

If a goose becomes sick, injured or unwell, often two other geese will escort it to a place of safety and remain there until the goose is able to fly again.

Goose Lesson 5:  We need to take care of one another even during difficult times.  That means being mindful and watching out for our teammates who are in trouble and helping them when we can.

So the next time you hear the raucous honking of a flock of Canada Geese, look up and remember the incredible teamwork taking place right overhead.  Why not see if you can bring the ethic of “goose leadership” to your own team?

As published in the Cottage Country Connection on January 2, 2016

Submitted by Jacob Rodenburg, Executive Director of Camp Kawartha

Jacob has co-authored a book with Drew Monkman, published by New Society Publishing which will be available this spring. For more details visit: