Leadership Simplified: Doug Van Dyke

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Leadership Adaptability – The Sandhill Crane Effect

Recently, a group asked me to be their keynote business speaker. I am always honored to speak to leaders, and this group was particularly lively and astute. They also chose a location that was beautiful and rustic. As I drove through the beautiful setting I had to stop my car. I mean literally stop, because a group of three Sandhill Cranes were sauntering across the street and I had no desire to tangle with them. For those of you not familiar with Sandhills, they are the size of storks, with large, pointy beaks. In addition, they are territorial, confident, loyal, family-oriented, and combative if provoked. I respect and admire these beautiful birds.


After they had safely passed and I had moved on, it struck me just how incredibly adaptable these birds are. We are constantly encroaching on their natural habitat, and they refuse to be defeated. Instead, they adapt. In other words, they are not happy about man’s presence in and proximity to their world, yet they deal with it and flourish. Sandhills continue to stalk their turf, frequent their ponds, cross barriers (i.e., paved roads), and raise their young in a changed world. Sandhills even coexist with our pets – it is sometimes amusing to see just who chases whom.


So the next time you are assessing your strengths or areas of needed improvement, ponder your level of leadership adaptability. Are you a Sandhill, or something else? During your assessment process answer these questions:

  1. How do I behave when I perceive that someone is encroaching on my turf?
  2. How do I treat hurdles: as a nuisance or something that occurs naturally during the course of progress and growth?
  3. When thrown into uncomfortable situations am I still confident? Why or why not?
  4. Am I constantly reinforcing and building the concept of team in the workplace?
  5. If my team was driving and I stepped into the road would they stop and patiently wait for me, or would they run me over? Why?

Often times being a great leader involves reflecting on a handful of questions that keep your fingers on the pulse of your performance. Sometimes life is enhanced by stopping and admiring the grandeur in something seemingly simple. Be well my friends. And be adaptable. 

Posted by Doug Van Dyke on 2010-04-29 at 09:33 AM
speaking and training • (0) CommentsPermalink
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