In the 1990's we lived on a farm in Iowa. Since I grew up in the country, I thought I knew everything there was to know about country living. Imagine my surprise at learning something life changing from a couple of old geese!
When we obtained the farm I wanted to have the full experience so I began to collect animals. We acquired cats, dogs, chickens, an old horse, guineas and the pair of geese. I recall the wisdom that came from the animals. One such piece of wisdom was on leadership.
Leadership can be applied to our families, friends, business associates, co-workers and relatives. True leaders are not born, as we are often taught. True leaders are developed. True leaders find out what others want and then they weigh the best solution to create a win / win situation.
Leaders face the challenges head-on and don't whine, 'It's too hard.' They take the time and energy required to develop their character, skills, philosophies, attitudes, and goals and then? Then they allow these things to be their guiding force. Fine leaders understand that others look up to them. They grasp the concept of this immense responsibility and joyfully take on the task. Good, bad or ugly.
So, how can a smelly pair of hissing geese teach you more about leadership? Well, on the farm we owned 4 acres of woods and at night it was crawling with opossum, raccoons and coyotes. Of course that meant that each night all the feathered animals would have to be secured in the chicken coop. The chickens and guineas didn't have a problem with going in at night. The geese? Well, they were another story!
The geese were stubborn. They had ideas of their own. They did not want to be told what to do.
Does this sound like anyone you know?
Each evening all five kids, two dogs and I would do the ritual "goose dance" where we would chase the geese with big sticks, brooms and any other intimidating item we could find. We would attempt to forcibly push and shoo them into the chicken coop. At times my husband would strategically suggest some new technique. Yet, NOTHING worked!
Barking, yelling and honking were standard sounds during the ritual goose dance. Finally we would manage to circle and herd the geese to the chicken coop door. They would reluctantly jump over the threshold and we would quickly and angrily slam the door shut behind them while shouting angry words and stomping toward the house. I was not happy.
The geese began to consume my thoughts. What motivated these stinking, stupid, stubborn birds? Why did they have such a mind of their own and why were they so...well....you know...difficult? Didn't they realize it was for their own protection and we were attempting to do what was best for them? After all, we KNEW what would happen if they stayed out at night. They would be goose dinner for some prowling animal in the woods.
I can't say as I blame them. No one likes to be told what to do. Pushing someone never works. No one likes to give up his or her freedom and ideas. Even if you realize something they don't and it is for their own good.
Then it dawned on me that perhaps?..just perhaps, the geese were like people. Yeah?.maybe they had a mind and personality of their own. Maybe I needed to find out what they wanted. When I showed them how to get it, they would actually WANT to go into the coop. Maybe I could lead them. It was time to get creative!
That evening I opened a bag of corn and spilled a few kernels in front of the geese. They quickly waddled over and gobbled it up. I had found the answer! Woo Hoo!!!
I was in front of them?.I was leading them. They were following me! I took the corn and kernel by kernel, they followed me right into the coop!
I ran out and slammed the door shut and this time, I smiled! No cursing, no anger. I was happy!
I took my stick and danced around with it?you know?John Travolta style. STAYIN ALIVE, STAYIN ALIVE???.AH AH AH AH?.STAYIN ALIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIVE.
Living on a farm means no close neighbors monitoring your behavior so you tend to be...well, let's say...more?you know?uninhibited. I had just learned the power of leadership from a couple of stupid, hissing, stinking, annoying birds! I was so happy!
From that moment on the geese were led in each night. I was even able to teach my children to be "leaders". What a concept. Teaching others leadership.
Leadership is a skill. Skills can be learned?you don't have to be born a leader. If you want to become a strong leader, ask yourself, these questions:
What motivates your associates, employees and team members?
Are you attempting to get what YOU want by pushing or do you take time to find out what THEY want and then show them how to get it?
Are you bossing your team members or are you leading them in the right direction?
Are you creatively designing situations where everyone wins?
You never know, someday they might even thank you. After all?.anything is possible when you develop leadership skills!
© 2006Michelle Shelton, All rights reserved
Michelle Shelton is a licensed REALTOR with Keller Williams Realty Southeast Valley in Gilbert, Arizona. Michelle specializes in teaching clients the entire process of Real Estate. She believes that the more educated her clients are, the less anxiety and stress they will have when buying or selling their home.