World thought leaders in High Performance


How many geese work in High Performance Teams?

By Marco Schreurs, author of the Dutch management book Animal Firm

I hope the answer is ‘many’, because geese demonstrate strong leadership and have turned ‘teamwork’ into an art. These are important characteristic of High Performance Teams.

You run faster alone, but High Performance Teams run faster!

  • Geese often fly in a V-formation. There are a number of advantages to this. The amount of energy used by the total group can be reduced by as much as 50 percent. Why? The moment a goose’s wings flap in the wind, he creates an upward force for the goose flying behind him. If a goose falls out of formation, he will suddenly notice the slowness and resistance of flying alone. The goose will then quickly fall into formation again in order to take advantage of the upward force of the goose in front of him. By flying in V-formation, High-Performance-Teamsthe group can get 71 percent further than when flying alone.
  • The goose at the front of the formation is not always the same animal. The experienced geese who know where the final destination is change position frequently during flight. The moment the lead goose gets tired, he switches places. Another goose takes over the lead position. In other words, leadership is a shared responsibility.
  • Migrating geese who fly in V-formation squawk at each other continuously. This squawking has several purposes. One is to encourage the goose in front to maintain speed. Another is for the entire group to stay in contact and profit optimally from the V-formation.
  • When a goose gets sick or injured and falls out of formation, two other geese will also fall out of the formation. They will guide the goose downwards to offer help or protection. They stay with the ‘fallen goose’ until it has died or is able to fly again. They then fly back to the group in a formation of three. Sometimes, they may join another group temporarily until they can join up with their original group.

The next time you see a formation of geese fly by, you might find yourself secretly wanting to join them and experience the strength of truly High Performance Teams!

Strong leadership is the foundation of success with High Performance Teams

Success of High Performance Teams lies in strong leadership. Strong leadership in High Performance Teams is the result of being (daring to be) open, communicating with others and showing vulnerability when it comes to the challenges you face. Geese provide the perfect example. Geese give and receive feedback continuously and act in the interest of the group. Self-confidence, modesty and a sense of servitude are the ingredients of this ‘animal’ leadership. This type of leadership involves appreciatively encouraging one another while making an effort, maintaining contact and acting in the interest of the group. You can also build confidence by demonstrating strong exemplary behavior. Geese show us that this is what really matters, not so much what you say. Continuity should not be based on leadership that revolves around chasing individual targets or climbing over others on your way to the top of the hierarchy, but around forging relationships of trust and long-term collaboration.

To achieve improvements towards becoming more successful, we have put together a number of practical tips to help you start High Performance Teams and encourage more ‘geese behavior’.

Tips to create High Performance Teams

  1. Know what motivates your coworkers! Stay in touch. Take the time to sit down together and share information. Show genuine interest in private and work-related matters. Everyone is busy and, before you know it, another month has passed without any real contact. If it does not happen spontaneously or gets lost among all the priorities, schedule it. 2
  2. Talk to each other about the kind of behavior you wish to show as an individual, team and department. Develop performance-oriented values and norms: this is the behavior we want and need to show to perform better. Follow simple rules like:
    a. Do what you say and say what you do.
    b. Always arrive at a scheduled meeting on time.
    c. Give direct and bilateral feedback.
    d. Ignoring an action twice is once too many.

Communicate with your coworkers and create High Performance Teams within your organization!

Also read the article: Learning from ants, crows and wild dogs… by Marco Schreurs

For more information about the HPO Framework, HPO Diagnosis, our lecturers, HPO Experts, workshops and Master Classes, please contact us (T. +31 (0) 35 – 603 70 07).