Don Moore

Flying in Formation: Teamwork Lessons from Canadian Geese Part 1

March 30, 2017 | no comments | Leading Leaders


It’s no secret to anyone who knows me that I am inspired by eagles. From a very young age, their majestic strength and vision has taught me so much about character and courage. I love the independence of their flight, and never tire of watching them soar.

However, when it comes to geese, that’s another story. When I was just a kid, my three year-old sister was attacked by a goose. This once revered symbol of Canada has become a nuisance to many of us, especially in Southern Ontario. Due to changes in their population, many geese no longer fly south for the winter. Instead, the overpopulated birds park themselves in our parking lots, green spaces and sidewalks.

But there’s one thing to be said for geese: they’re great at teamwork. As a solitary eagle, I realize that, despite my many years in ministry, I still have much to learn from geese when it comes to working as a team in ministry:

Three Canadian geese fly in formation, showing us their teamwork skills.

Geese form efficient teams

Flying in formation allows geese to fly fast, longer and more efficiently than they would on their own. Scientists believe that flying in a V formation allows a team to fly about 70% farther, but with the same amount of energy, than they could alone. This is because the geese at the front provide lift and reduce wind resistance, conserving the energy of the whole group.

From a ministry team perspective: Is your team reducing “wind resistance” for each other? Are they sharing the load, supporting and encouraging each other in ministry and in the faith? As leaders, we have to provide this example of compassionate care, so we can accomplish more together.

Geese know their team position

By rotating positions, each goose takes a turn at receiving the brunt of the air resistance. Every member of a flock of geese knows that it is integral to keeping the whole crew going. If a goose doesn’t fulfill his role, all the others suffer.

From a ministry team perspective Sometimes stretching ourselves in a challenging new area can bring growth. But there is also something to be said for allowing our team members to thrive in those areas in which they are gifted, by giving them opportunities to lead when appropriate. We can encourage and provide those opportunities for our ministry teams to serve in their best capacity.

Geese support their leader

When it’s a goose’s turn to lead, he leads absolutely. There is no overthrow of hierarchy- he is in charge of the course until he can no longer resist the force of the wind. The geese behind him can also keep close tabs on him, ensuring that he is protected from threats that could come from behind. At the same time, the leader isn’t looking back and micro-managing his team, telling them how to fly. He’s focussed on his goal, with full confidence that those behind are backing him up. Because, when it’s their turn to lead, he will do the same.Canadian geese fly in a V formation.

From a ministry team perspective   Is your team flying towards your goal?  As important as it is for a leader to be in tune with their team, it’s equally important for the team to be in tune with the leader. Being united in purpose and committed to the shared vision of leadership ensures you will make it to your destination.

1 Corinthians 12:12 (ESV) says, “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.” When each member of a ministry team is acting in their unique capabilities and gifts, the whole body thrives.

Forming an efficient team, knowing your position, and supporting your leader are crucial to ministry. Next week we’ll take a look at the final two important teamwork tips from geese: cultivating great communication, and ensuring everyone on your team is cared for.

Want to learn more about effective teamwork? Sign up for our 2017 Church Leaders Forum: Flying in Formation, at cities across Canada this spring. 

About the author

Rev. Dr. Don Moore, is our National Church Ambassador. Don is available to inspire vision and explore partnership opportunities with denominational and senior church leaders, to assist churches in accomplishing their missional goals, both in Canada and around the world.

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