It’s officially Autumn. After a roller coaster of a year and a month of rest and rejuvenation in August, myself and the team at Rising Vibe are back at work, navigating the ‘new normal’ and challenging our clients to place wellbeing at the heart of their culture.
There’s always a distinct gear change at this time of year and it’s no different in nature. It won’t be long before we see the familiar ‘V’ formation of migrating geese as they head south to sunnier climates. I’ve always been fascinated by how and why they do this. So whilst on holiday at the lodge this summer, I did a little research and discovered this phenomenon to be a great metaphor for business.
‘By flying in an echelon, or ‘V’ formation, the whole flock adds a 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew alone. As each goose flaps its wings it creates an ‘uplift’ for the birds that follow.’
Running a successful business is a long and arduous journey, often at high altitude. It’s also a team effort. Like the birds, Rising Vibe share a vision and a common direction.
We get to where we’re going much easier because we work together towards a common goal.
‘When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of flying alone. It quickly moves back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front of it.’
Sometimes people have a wobble. They decide they’re not happy in the flock anymore. You think they’re part of the team, but they’re not. Work has become a drag and they’re not adding value. In these situations open, honest conversations around how to leave the flock ‘well’, are the best policy. The issues arise when those people remain in the flock just to benefit themselves and when the time is right, exit without transparency, letting the rest of the flock down.
Sometimes we just don’t fit with a flock. Or we used to, but things have changed. This is fine as long as there’s transparency.
‘The lead bird works the hardest. If it flew the whole way at the front, it would die of exhaustion. When the lead goose tires, it rotates back into the formation and another goose takes over.’
We need hierarchy in business for decision making and accountability, but hierarchy doesn’t necessarily translate into importance. As the founder of Rising Vibe, you might say I’m the lead goose. But over the summer I needed some time-out. I felt safe enough with my team to be able to say “I’m struggling and I need to pull back.” Furthermore, I had complete faith that whilst I was away from the business, they would be getting on with the job at hand and I wouldn’t be walking back into a barrage of problems on my return.
The Rising Vibe team are interdependent on each other’s unique skills, capabilities, talents and resources. So every member of the flock adds value and shares equal importance. At one point or another, we all head up the ‘V’ in the roles we have.
Within a business, it’s crucial that people not only feel safe enough to say when they’re struggling and ask for help, but also that there is someone trustworthy, ready and willing to take the lead in their place.
Which brings me to the coasters. Those people surfing the slipstream with minimal effort and never taking their place at the front. Contributing to the team isn’t just about doing your job, it’s about being available and picking up the slack when others fall back.
And let’s not forget the goslings. Every flock has it’s younger members. Those that aren’t ready to take the lead at the front, but need the rest of the flock to push them a little closer to it. A great team nurtures the newbies, despite their own workload. Great mentorship and role modelling can future proof a business for years to come.
So take stock of your flock. Be mindful of your goslings and watch out for those that may be falling out of formation or surfing the slipstream. When we fly in formation with the people who are heading where we want to go, we’re at ease. We’re willing to accept help and give our help to others. We feel safe. We share ideas. We collaborate much more effectively. True innovation comes when the team is truly aligned.