#52project · #edublogsclub · professional learning

Leadership – What Geese Can Teach Us

This post is part of the #EdublogsClub – a group of educators and edtech enthusiasts that blog around a common theme each week. Simply write a post and share it to join in, or sign up to receive email reminders of each new prompt. 

This week’s #edublogsclub prompt was simple. “Write a post that includes an image” and then talk about it. The prompt suggests different ways to go about blogging on the topic of images, including sharing our favourite sources for images. I’m learning more and more about, and better following copyright rules when using pictures that are not my own, but more recently, I haven’t had to think too much about this, as I have discovered a fun way to create my own images. Using the app Sketchbook on my Surface I have been creating sketchnotes to use as images to accompany (and inspire) my writing.  Not only do I enjoy creating the sketchnotes, but they also help to generate ideas for my writing.

Here is what I sketched for this week:

leadership1

Having skipped last week’s prompt on leadership to blog about something else, I decided to play catch up a bit and sketch and talk about leadership this week instead.

Because I learn best through analogical reasoning, while reflecting on what makes a good leader, I naturally tried to think of what I could relate my ideas on good leadership to. One idea that came to mind (and took me back to I’m not even sure what grade) was the idea of migratory birds, such as Canada geese, being like good leaders. I remembered a few facts about migratory birds from my school days that clearly demonstrated leadership skills, and by reading more about them here, I quickly found a few other characteristics that fit well with this analogy of good leadership, so I went with it!

Here is what I found good leaders and migratory birds have in common:

They are team players and encourage and foster teamwork.

Migratory birds have worked out that by working together as a team, they are more efficient. When they fly together, there is less air resistance and this makes their journey quicker and easier. Similarly, good leaders understand and foster team work. They see the value in working together to get something done. They have a knack for creating a sense of community and uniting and encouraging the team to work cooperatively towards success. They also serve the team by participating and contributing for the greater good of the team. They are always thinking “we,” not “I.”

They know when to step down (shared leadership).

The shared leadership that migratory birds demonstrate is one of the characteristics that I remembered learning about these birds in school. While flying in formation, there is always a lead bird (at the peak of the V), but what’s neat is that the lead bird knows when his strength is waning, and when he tires, he steps down and hands the lead over to another bird with more strength. Similarly, good leaders understand that they are not the only leader. They recognize and value the varied strengths of their team members and hand the lead over to the strongest member in any given situation. They are not afraid to not have all of the answers, and they give credit to other team members.

They are good communicators.

Many people are familiar with the loud honking sounds that come from the sky when flocks of geese are flying south for the winter. It is believed that this is their way of communicating and encouraging each other while in flight. Like geese, good leaders are good communicators and value team communication. They want to hear from their team members and are very approachable. They also provide regular feedback and encouragement to the team.

They are supportive and loyal.

There are two interesting facts about migratory birds that demonstrate their supportive and loyal nature. The fact that they are monogamous creatures, made me think of the importance of a leader being loyal to his employees and standing by them. Good leaders value and develop trust. The other thing that I found interesting and that I was able to connect to good leadership is the fact that if a bird becomes injured or sick during flight, two other birds hang back with him until he is better. This shows support, a skill that good leaders also demonstrate. Good leaders support and even lift their people up when they are down.

They pave the way and participate actively.

The lead bird in a formation of birds paves the way or carves out the path if you will. Similarly, good leaders put themselves out there before expecting their team members to put themselves out there. They don’t expect their team to do anything they wouldn’t do.

They learn with the team.

While often we learn from our superiors or our elders, this apparently is not the case when it comes to migratory birds learning to fly in formation. Birds flying in formation are often of the same age, and it is speculated that these birds learn to fly in formation by working it out together. Similarly, good leaders are lifelong learners, and problem solvers, and they are interested in learning and working with their team.

On a side note I also wanted to draw attention to the depiction of boss vs leader in my sketchnote. Although I haven’t tied it into my analogy, I felt it important to touch on. Often these terms are used interchangeably but really, they are very different. To summarize my understanding on the difference between these two terms, to me bosses are very much self-serving and value hierarchy (there is one boss at the top), whereas leaders are the foundation and driving force of a  team and there are many of them within a group or organization. The leaders are genuinely interested in the success of the whole team and value meritocracy.

#52project 4/52

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