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Lessons from geese

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Lessons from Geese


During a team-building or leadership session,  you will most likely have heard the classic example of how geese are great at teamwork and leadership. Flying in formation, taking it in turns leading at the front, here are 5 lessons from geese you can use in your everyday working life.


As each goose flaps its wings, it creates an ‘uplift’ for the following or trailing bird. By flying in a “V” formation, the whole flock adds 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew alone.


People who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going quicker and easier because they are travelling on the thrust of one another.


Whenever a goose falls out of formation it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to fly alone and quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the “lifting power” of the bird immediately in front.


If we have as much sense as a goose we will stay in formation with those who are headed where we want to go (and be willing to accept their help as we help them).


When the head goose gets tired, it rotates back into formation and another goose flies to the point position.  This is to show there support for each other.


It pays to take turns doing the hard tasks and sharing leadership with people and there are more benefits when working as a team. (Very important lessons from geese)


The geese in formation honk from behind to enable communication and to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.


We need to make sure our honking from behind is encouraging and motivating to the person in front not negative, this is an important lesson to learn.


When a goose gets sick, wounded, or shot down, two geese drop out of formation and follow it down to help and protect it. They stay with it until it dies or is able to fly again. Then, they launch out with another formation to catch up with the flock.


We must stand by each other in difficult times as well as when we’re strong as others will do the same in return.

“Lessons from Geese” was transcribed from a speech given by Angeles Arrien at the 1991 Organizational Development Network and is based on the work of Milton Olson.

Fun facts about geese:

  • Geese have the ability to control each of their eyes independently, they can also see better, further away and a larger range of colours compared to humans!
  • They can shut down one half of their brain to rest, and can even adjust how deeply they sleep by how wide their eye is open or closed.
  • Little goslings start communicating with their parents while they are still in their eggs, now that is a parent child bond.
  • Goose is actually the term for female geese, male geese are called ganders. A group of geese on land or in water are a gaggle, while in the air they are called a skein.
  • Geese are very loyal, they mate for life and are very protective of their partner and offspring.
  • They have strong affections for others in the group, for example if a goose gets sick a couple of other geese would drop out of the formation to help and protect them, until they are able to fly again.
  • Once a year geese will lose flight and tail feathers which is called ‘molting’. They are unable to fly until their new feathers come in and can take around 30-45 days. During this season the geese will stay near water to escape from predators.
  • Geese fossils have been discovered from as far back as 10 to 12 million years ago.
  • They are the largest waterfowls, the other being swans, although they are waterfowls they spend most of their time on land.
  • Geese like to use, twigs, bark, and leaves to make home improvements to their nests. As well as foraging for food in grass and preening their feathers.
Lessons from geese, teamwork
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