Don Moore

Flying in Formation: Teamwork Lessons from Canadian Geese Part 2

April 5, 2017 | no comments | Uncategorized


Last week we broke down what makes Canadian geese so good at teamwork. Their efficient teams do more together than they could apart. They also know their team position, and thrive in it. And finally, they support their leader. This week we’re looking at the two last lessons I’ve been reflecting on from these Canadian symbols.

Canadian geese use teamwork to fly in a V formation.

Geese are great communicators:

The frequent honking that geese emit (which can quite annoy those of us of the human species) is actually a highly effective form of communication. During long flights, geese honk at each other to communicate their presence and place in line. Keeping each other informed about how things are going is crucial to a safe journey. Their V formation also allows them to keep tabs on each other.

From a ministry team perspective Communicating is the most important thing you can do for your team. If you’re not communicating when you’re falling behind, your team will not know how to help you. At the same time, a crucial part of being a leader is listening to what your team is telling you. The biggest mistake you can make is to plow forward, leaving them bewildered and struggling to catch up.

Geese look out for each other:

Scientists have discovered that when one goose becomes ill, or is injured, two other geese will fall behind to look after the lagging goose. These team members stay with their friend to protect him/her from predators until they are well enough to fly again. It’s a version of the age-old mantra, “No goose gets left behind”.

From a ministry team perspective As Christians, we need to strive to be relational and people-centric in our mission. When someone is struggling, there can be a utilitarian tendency to move forward, regardless of the cost to the individual. But Christ’s example teaches us how precious each person is. If one of your team is falling behind, it may be time to double back. 

Flying solo might be freeing, but as the African proverb says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” As much as I like to live life at a fast pace, these lessons from geese have taught me that it’s much more efficient to slow down and work with your team. It allows all of us to go farther, together, with much less personal stress at shouldering the whole load myself.

The early church had a similar idea. Luke writes that the believers “were of one heart and soul, and…had everything in common.” Together, they changed the world with their counter-cultural love. They did that by supporting each other. Those who had money and lands, donated it to the cause. Those who could travel and spread the Good News of Christ did so. Each one used their gifts for the good of the team.

Paul would often say that these communities of faith were what gave him the strength- physically, and spiritually- to continue his work. If it weren’t for their hospitality and prayers, the beginnings of the Church may have been even more challenging.

Similarly, all of us need a strong team around us in order to move forward in ministry. For me, that means, at times, setting aside my fascination with the eagle and allowing myself to be captivated by what I can learn from the goose. It’s a lesson that I’m still learning, so I’m grateful I have a pretty great flock to help me along the way.

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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