Ubuntu and Lessons from Geese

It is increasingly important for school leaders not to become insular and isolated. More than ever schools need to work together and help each other. This is at the heart of the new inclusive Derby Teaching Schools Alliance – as someone once said, ‘I am what I am because of who we all are’. The South Africans have a phrase for it – ‘Ubuntu’. Archbishop Desmond Tutu puts it this way:

‘A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able, based from a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished. Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can’t exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness – you can’t be human all by yourself.’

— Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Lessons from Geese

‘Individual empowerment results from quality honking’

Lessons from Geese provides a perfect example of the importance of collaboration and team work and how it can have a profound and powerful effect on any form of personal or organisational endeavour. When we use these five principles it will helps us to foster and encourage a level of passion and energy in ourselves, as well as those who are our friends, partners or team members.

It is essential to remember that collaboration and partnership working happens best when it is continually nurtured and encouraged – when it is part of your culture or ‘the way we do things around here’.

Lesson 1 – The Importance of Achieving Goals

As each goose flaps its wings it creates an UPLIFT for the birds that follow. By flying in a ‘V’ formation the whole flock adds 71 percent extra to the flying range.

Outcome – When we have a sense of community and focus, we create trust and can help each other to achieve our goals.

Lesson 2 – The Importance of Team Work

When a goose falls out of formation it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of flying alone. It quickly moves back to take advantage of the lifting power of the birds in front.

Outcome – If we had as much sense as geese we would stay in formation with those headed where we want to go. We are willing to accept their help and give our help to others.

Lesson 3 – The Importance of Sharing

When a goose tires of flying up front it drops back into formation and another goose flies to the point position.

Outcome – It pays to take turns doing the hard tasks. We should respect and protect each other’s unique arrangement of skills, capabilities, talents and resources.

Lesson 4 – The Importance of Empathy and Understanding

When a goose gets sick, two geese drop out of formation and follow it down to the ground to help and protect it.

Outcome – If we have as much sense as geese we will stand by each other in difficult times, as well as when we are strong.

Lesson 5 – The Importance of Encouragement

Geese flying in formation ‘HONK’ to encourage those up front to keep up with their speed.

Outcome – We need to make sure our honking is encouraging. In groups and teams where there is encouragement, production is much greater. ‘Individual empowerment results from quality honking’.