Developing Teams & Teamwork
Scores of Canada Geese spend the winter in nearby fields. They fly over the house to a nature pond almost every
morning. What is distinctive about these flights is that the geese always fly in a V pattern. The reason for this
pattern is that the flipping wings of the geese in front create an updraft for the geese that follow. This V pattern
increases the range of the geese collectively by 71 per cent compared to flying alone. On long flights, after the
lead goose has flown at the front of the V for awhile, it drops back to take a place in the V where the flying is
easier. Another goose then takes over the lead position, where the flying is more strenuous. If a goose begins to
fly out of formation, it is not long before it returns to the V because of the resistance it experiences when not
supported by the other geese’s wings flaps.
Another noticeable feature of these geese is the loud honking that occurs when they fly. Canada Geese are mpt
quiet when they are flying. One can always tell when they are in the air because of their sound. The reason for
the honking is not random, however. It occurs among geese in the rear of the formation in order to encourage
the lead goose. The leader does not honk--just those who are supporting and urging on the leader.
If a goose becomes ill, is shot, or falls out of the formation, two geese break ranks and follow the wounded or ill
goose to the ground. There they remain, nurturing their companion, until it is either well enough to return to the
flock or dies.
This remarkable phenomenon serves as an apt metaphor for teamwork. The lessons garnered from the flying V
formation help highlight important attributes of effective teams and skillful teamwork. For example:
- Effective teams have interdependent members. Like geese, the productivity and efficiency of an
entire unit is determined by the coordinated, interactive efforts of all its members.
- Effective teams help members be more efficient working together than alone. Like geese, effective
teams outperform even the best individual’s performance.
- Effective teams function so well that they create their own magnetism. Like geese, team members
desire to affiliate with a team because of the advantages they receive from membership.
- Effective teams do not always have the same leader. Like geese, leadership responsibilities often
rotate and are shared broadly in skillfully led teams.
- In effective teams, members care for and nurture one another. No member is devalued or
unappreciated. All are treated as an integral part of the team.
- In effective teams, members cheer for and bolster the leader, and vice versa. Mutual
encouragement is given and received by each member.
- In effective teams, there is a high level of trust among members. Members are interested in
others’ success as well as their own.