I have been away from writing for a while due to a myriad of reasons that range from health, depression, and recruiting projects. During this time I took up the “hobby” of feeding the birds who fly by my living room windows en route to the grassy part of our backyard whereupon they feast on the pieces of bread I scatter about in one small area for them.
As I have gotten more involved with my new found hobby I started to pay attention to the different species of birds that come to visit my bird feeding station and notice each species (I am not a bird expert so I cannot identify which species is which other than the robin, the crows and perhaps the little brown starlings) had a leader with each leader having a different style they employ yet as different as each style is they manage to lead in manner similar to the leader of the other species of birds. The leader of the Starling will land on the fence just above the bread while carefully surveying the landscape for landing spots or viability of landing in the middle of the field. Having satisfied its information gathering process the leader bird will send out a chirping signal to the others so they may join in the meal gathering.
Conversely, the Crow will conduct several precision pattern flyovers to obtain the information it needs to decide if it is prudent to call out to its fellow crows to join the Starlings in the feeding field. Once both have landed they each go about their business of feeding themselves and taking extra back to their nests presumably to feed their family. Not one bird will interfere or attempt to steal from another bird even though the leaders are no longer distinguishable to the human eye they remain ever present.
The Robin is the most daring and aggressive of all as their leader will land on a tree stump or branch within a few feet of me watching as I “set the table” so the festive feast can begin. Having qualified the field as containing enough of a meal offering for its fellow Robins a different more rhythmic call goes out hence the Robins join in.
Leaders, we know all have their own distinctive style that they employ. The responsibility of the leader is hardly a surprise to anybody as are the consequences if there is failure that ensued as a result of their leadership. What many leaders fail to recognize is that they must never cease to attend “classes” that will reinforce or add to their communication effectiveness.
The core strength of leaders should be his (or her) ability to concisely communicate with all levels of the “community” that they have been elected &/or appointed to lead. If both your oral and written communication skills are sub-par so too will be your leadership tenure which may very well be short lived.
While my flying feathered friends do not possess any ability to communicate via the printed word (or none that we are aware of) they are uncanny communicators who also lead via various weaves and bobs of their heads and bodies to the extent that the other birds who are of a different species clearly understand.
In this modern day era that we live in where personal and not so personal interpersonal communication skills are of tantamount importance rare is the leader (dare I say virtually non-existent) who can communicate void of the ability to speak or write words which is a stark contrast not only to the bird but other members of the animal nation who despite the lack of a vocabulary manage to get their points or messages out to whomever they deem it necessary to deliver it to.
In the case of the bird (or any other animal for that matter), it is unknown how it is decided who the leader will be and how they come to have this title awarded to them. Yet as I have mentioned they do have leaders in place who possesses leadership skills far superior to their human counterparts who often struggle or crumble under the weight of leadership.
If a leader struggles with their leadership ability those under them will inevitably struggle as well having nobody to set a standard to go by. When a leader struggles invariably it is due to poor communication skills. Communication, as I emphasized earlier, is a core competency every leader must have a mastery of.
In my faith throwing bread out to the birds is a very big commandment with little room for loopholes. This commandment presented me with an opportunity to conduct a completely non-scientific study of a certain animal species that I never for one moment anticipated doing or set out to do. It was from there that I observed leadership at its finest. That innate ability to keep order in a situation that can clearly call for confusion fed chaos. Keeping order, creating an atmosphere where a common goal is shared amongst all in a group with everybody having a specific responsibility so as to be able to achieve that goal is tantamount to the success of the leader. Leadership is the ability to lead and to do so across multi-disciplines.
The lessons of leadership learned by the simple task of feeding free-flying birds were not something I expected to learn as I personally consider myself neither a leader nor a follower. Nonetheless, it was an extraordinary lesson that I was taught by professors whose Ph.D.’s were inbred in them as opposed to videos, textbooks, and lectures that a leader as we know them must undertake.
By the time you read this article another round of bird feeding will have taken place. With that will come more watching, observing and yes even marveling at what I have just witnessed with the new added dimension of adding to the conclusions that my study has already produced.