Driving to work the other day I noticed a group of birds flying overhead. I’ve seen it so many times…“the flying ‘v’”. In fact, because I’ve seen it so many times I almost didn’t stop to take in the importance of it. But that day, we had a lot to do at work, a seemingly insurmountable number of details to take care of for our many clients. And as I sat at that stop light and watched those birds work as a team, it was a valuable reminder to me of the absolute necessity of teamwork.
As kids, most of us heard the reasons why birds fly in ‘v’ formation – so that the non-leader birds can draft off of the birds in front of them, thereby making it a whole lot easier to get those long distance trips done. I even remember my mom explaining that when the leader gets tired, they switch out, flying to one of the rear positions, and another bird just moves into the lead position.
Sometimes the lessons we learn as kids, are really the most important ones to remember as adults.
In reading up a little on the ‘flying v’, I came across some concepts that can well be applied to our work in Association Management. Some of the phrases that apply to birds and to work:
I. According to the experts, to accomplish this level of teamwork requires:
- “incredible awareness of one’s neighbors” – While you don’t need to know all the personal details of your co-workers’ lives, being “aware” of what projects they are working on, and what client needs are top priority for them, certainly helps the office function better as a team.
- “aligning themselves” – by aligning goals and priorities, the staff can more efficiently work together to achieve the common goal.
- “facilitating orientation and communication” – even birds get how important it is to orient themselves to the situation and to communicate. An effective team will get themselves “in the know”, and they will make sure to communicate with each other throughout the process. If you don’t talk about it, you can’t solve it. Issues don’t typically just “go away”. The more frequently the team communicates, chances are the healthier they will be, and the more efficient, and therefore cost-effective for the client.
II. Make the Work Easier – by working as a team, and “drafting” off the others, the whole group benefits. (This concept of “drafting” is commonly used by squadrons of planes & racecar drivers.)
III. Leadership Matters – in a ‘flying v’ the leader sets the course and the pace. Isn’t this true in business as well? Whoever takes the lead for a client or a specific project will, whether they’d like to admit it or not, set the pace, and even the tone and style for the rest of the team. If the leader tends to be more laid back and leisurely, those who are following, will in turn, work at that pace. If the leader is motivated and positive, the team will often reflect that. Each situation is different of course, but never underestimate the powerful effect that a leader has on their team.
Whatever your day holds, try to remember the value of teamwork. Here at SOS, we’d be lost without it. I truly value our team, and am so grateful I have the opportunity to come to work every day with others who are aware, have common client goals, communicate and help each other. Life is good in the ‘flying v’. It may not make the destination any closer, but it sure makes getting there, a whole lot more do-able!