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Jeff Schmidt

Were All In This Together

10-4-2013

My wife and I were sitting by the pond one evening, reviewing the day and enjoying the crisp fall air. The incredible noise overhead grabbed our attention. A flock of geese flying south for the winter were honking at one another. My trainer brain immediately began thinking of leadership and lessons.

Several years ago Bill Mann, general manager, gave me Dr. Robert McNeishs Lessons From Geese article (1971). Ive added commentary:

As each goose flaps its wings it creates uplift for the birds that follow. By flying in a V-Formation, the whole flock adds 72% greater flying range than if each bird flew alone.
Lesson 1:  Share a Common Goal: People who share a common direction and goal can get where they are going quicker, with less effort. Make sure your team and company is aligned towards a common goal.

Flying in V-Formation increases visibility so every goose can see whats happening in front of and behind them.
Lesson 2:Increase Visibility: Make your organization visible in both directions -- bottom up to ensure that employees see the bigger picture and are empowered to align themselves with the mission, and top down to ensure leaders stay connected.

When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the friction of flying alone. It quickly adjusts its mistake and moves back into the formation to take advantage of the lifting power.
Lesson 3:  Have the humility to seek help: Most likely if youre having trouble, others either are, or have had, the same trouble and can help. When you get stuck, ask for help -- the sooner the better.

When the lead goose gets tired, it rotates back in the formation and another goose flies point.
Lesson 4:  Empower others to lead: It pays to take turns doing the hard tasks and sharing leadership with people. As with geese, people are interdependent. People can depend and feed off of each other's skills, capabilities, and talents.

Geese honk from behind to recognize each other and encourage those up front to keep up their speed.
Lesson 5:  Recognize great work: Make sure you praise people and give them encouragement and recognition. Teams that encourage each other are more productive teams. Achievement is very motivating. Being recognized for your achievement by your peers and managers is priceless.

When a goose gets sick or wounded, 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.
Lesson 6:  Offer support in challenging times: Its easy to be a part of winning teams, but when things get difficult and people are facing challenges, thats when your teammates need you the most.

Geese must have companionship; you will never see one alone.
Lesson 7:  We need each other: Surround yourself with people you admire, love, trust, and who will accept you for who you are, imperfections and all. Be that kind of companion to your friends.

Sales is difficult. It can be challenging and rewarding, frustrating and elating, but it doesnt have to be lonely. Its a shared experience. Dont have it all by yourself.

It might appear that geese seem to be smarter than people, but I think we can catch up. Recognize that we are in this sales game together. Some have been where we are now, others are where we want to go. Know that plenty are willing to help us along the way.

Think Big, Make Big Things Happen!

Jeff Schmidt is EVP and Partner with Chris Lytle at Sparque, Inc.You can reach him at, Jeff.Schmidt@Sparque.biz, follow him on Twitter @JeffreyASchmidt, or connect via LinkedIn 


 
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