Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Leadership Lessons from Loons

On the weekend, my husband Christopher and I went onto the dock at our cottage to investigate the odd bird noises coming from the lake. Initially we heard the beautiful call of a couple of loons which was quickly followed by what sounded like flapping wings and frantic loon calls. We were delighted to see two adult loons teaching two little loons to fly (or attempt to fly). The lesson was incredible. First, the two adult loons modeled rapid wing flapping which the little loons eagerly attempted. When they seemed to have passed the first test, the two adult loons began flapping their wings again and then took off running; literally, it looked as if they were running on the water. The two little loons were quick in pursuit. The faster the wings flapped, the noisier they were. Squawking and calling, the two big loons then took flight. The two little loons continued running across the lake but didn’t make it in the air. As we continued putting the boat together, a few minutes later we heard frantic calls, which we soon discovered were two lonely and afraid loons in the lake. After about five minutes, the two large loons came to the rescue, and the flying lessons ended for the day.
As Chris and I worked together to get the boat ready for a sail, I reflected on the leadership lessons from these loons:
• Model the behavior you wish to see others display, or the skill you are teaching,
• Allow time to practice and move the skill to the next level
• Remember that those learning do not always take flight the first time
• Don’t leave people in the middle of the lake to sink or swim

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