Anyone can forge a path for themselves; it takes a true leader to guide others on that path. If there’s one thing that has remained unchanged among humans since the inception of time, it’s the tendency to form communities. As social animals, we cannot all lead lives of solitude. However, whenever a community is formed, a leader is chosen to oversee its smooth functioning.
The function of a leader in society is invaluable. They provide us with a direction and purpose, without which any community would turn into chaos. And it isn’t just limited to humans; many other members of the animal kingdom understand the importance of leadership as well.
In today’s article, we’ll talk about four birds that symbolize leadership, discuss how they manage to do that, and explore what learnings we can derive from them. Let’s get started!
Strong, fast, and ruthless, the eagles are the uncrowned kings of the avian kingdom. These birds of prey are apex predators, occupying the top position in the food chain, have a cosmopolitan population, and are far too dangerous not to cower from.
Because of their prowess and popularity, these birds have been mentioned in various folklores and myths around the world. They’re universally accepted as symbols of strength, courage, and freedom. But how do the eagles symbolize leadership?
While eagles themselves are solitary creatures, they have many traits that a good leader should possess. First and foremost, they have a sharp vision. Due to their eyes being specifically designed for clarity and long-distance focus, nothing ever seems to miss their eyes.
Similarly, the first rule of being a leader is to adopt vigilance like a child. To guide your followers justly, you must first learn to be a keen observer.
Eagles are also fearless creatures, and never back down from a fight, be it over food or territory. They teach us how overcoming one’s fear is essential for all leaders. Because if you cannot take a stand for the people you lead in times of need, why would they bother following you?
Another trait that leaders can learn from the eagles is to solve problems instead of fretting about them. Unlike most passerine birds that seek shelter hurriedly when it rains, the eagles soar above the clouds to avoid getting wet. A good leader should always approach problems the way eagles do.
The last quality of eagles that all leaders should adopt is not trusting someone easily. Eagles are monogamous birds and stay with one partner all their lives. However, they’re very picky about choosing their partners and testing them on various grounds before mating with them.
Similarly, leaders should always be careful about who they lead. If you trust someone quickly without testing them, you’ll end up paying the price sooner or later.
Geese are large waterfowls characterized by long necks and distinctive honking calls. While these birds are fun-loving creatures, the way they function as a community is exemplary to all humans. They teach us that the best way to lead is to grow together.
The famous V-shaped formation in which the geese fly holds all the secrets of efficient leadership. The logic behind their V-formation is that the goose flies slightly above the one behind them. This slight uplift reduces air friction for following geese, and they’re able to stay afloat with lesser wing flapping.
Studies have shown that by flying in the V-formation, the geese are able to cover 70% more distance than they would’ve done by flying alone. In other words, it is their excellent teamwork that helps them travel farther and faster.
And that’s not even all. Because their V-formation puts the most stress on the geese flying in front, they’ve adopted rotation, where each bird takes turns flying in the front. In this process, none of the geese are worn down too much. Such a flawless teamwork arrangement is a skill all great leaders should possess.
The teamwork spirit among the geese is not just for its logical benefits. These birds care about one another deeply. Whenever a goose in the formation is injured, two other geese leave their positions and fly to the ground with them, looking after them until they’re ready to fly again. What a leader can learn from this is that, as a team, we’re as strong as our weakest link.
In order to grow together, it is important to understand that some people need more work than others. And instead of shaming them for it, you should help them with it.
Penguins are tall, aquatic birds that inhabit the Southern Hemisphere almost exclusively (except for the Galapagos Penguins). These birds stand out among other aquatic birds because they lack one important quality that all of them possess: flight.
Before you start wondering how a flightless bird can symbolize leadership, allow us to explain. While penguins might not be capable of flight, they’ve evolved to aquatic life with such grace and efficiency. Their torpedo-like body, flippers, and large, webbed feet help them swim and dive in water just as effortlessly as other birds fly in the sky. Even their black and white appearance is the result of countershading to keep them safe from their aquatic predators.
The first lesson any leader can learn from these birds is that there’s nothing wrong with being different. As a leader, you’ll often come across people with ideas that do not match your own. In such instances, if you’re incapable of giving their thoughts a chance and simply discard them for their differences, you’ve already failed as a leader.
To be a true leader, you must accept that being different is not wrong. In fact, it is our differences that make us unique. And the path to growth begins when we embrace our differences.
The second leadership lesson you can learn from these aquatic birds is about teamwork. Although penguins have thick feathers on their body and blubber layers under their skin, the winters can still be harsh on them. That’s why they huddle together in large circles to prevent heat from being lost.
Their circle formation is unlike anything you might’ve seen before. All penguins in the circle face inwards and keep moving towards the center gradually. Because the birds that are inside are warmer, they move rotationally for the other birds to get a chance at the same.
If the penguins can manage to keep themselves warm in the harshest cold of the Southern hemisphere by teamwork, imagine what we could imagine if we practiced the same.
Condors are magnificent birds that belong to the New World Vulture family. While these birds are scavengers just like the vultures, they have many other unique characteristics that we can learn from.
First and foremost is their tendency to soar. Condors are blessed with long, broad wings that help them in soaring effortlessly instead of constant wing flapping like the other birds. In the symbolic world, this represents the tendency to work smart rather than hard, which is a skill all leaders should possess.
In order to lead others efficiently, you must first learn how to work more with your mind to avoid working with your body. Because the menial laborious tasks could be performed by just about anyone. If others look up to you to guide them, it’s because of the qualities of your mind than your body.
Perhaps this is also why the Native Americans see the condor as a symbol of righteous leadership.
The bottom line
With this, we’ve come to the end of our article. Today, we’ve talked about some significant leadership qualities and how the aforementioned birds represent them in their attributes and personalities.
We also learned that at the core of all great leaderships of the world lies efficient teamwork, be it among humans, animals, or birds. Therefore, it is the most important quality you should possess as a leader.
Is there any other virtue that you’d like us to find representation for in the avian world? Let us know in the comments, and we’ll be back with a detailed article on it soon!