Gerald (Jerry) Zezas

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The Leadership of Geese

The flying V of migrating geese is an excellent analogy for those who lead and those who follow.

The lead bird is usually the one most experienced on the route, having traveled it many times. He can be relied upon to know how to avoid bad weather, when to climb or descend, how to take advantage of shifting winds, when to stop and feed, when to rest for the night, and how to avoid predators. He is the most knowledgeable of all the birds in the flock, and could likely lead them in a straight line, if all went well.

But the birds that follow do so in a V pattern. Why? It is likely that the two birds in the second row are the next in line to lead, based on their experience, the experience they could only have received by being able to see out, ahead of the lead bird, to help understand and react to what he sees, thereby gaining experience for when they are ultimately called upon to lead. If they followed directly behind the leader, all they would see are the tail-feathers of the lead bird. If that bird were to die or be attacked by a predator, they would not recognize the view of the sky in front of them, having never seen it before. This lack of leadership would endanger the entire flock. While following, they must understand why they are doing so.

As I stated above, the act of following in a V pattern is analogous to the training of tomorrow’s leaders. They must be allowed to see where they are being led, so that over time, they will come to understand the demands placed on the lead bird, the winds that they must encounter, the potential for attack from predatory animals, etc.
They must be prepared for the day when, if the lead bird can no longer lead, they take their place up front and be leaders themselves, with all the other birds falling in behind, ready to be led.


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