Growing up with my younger brother’s love and fascination with the natural world, meant that our home was usually a mini menagerie. I remember at least one summer holiday camping in the Peak District of England, with Judy, our gentle giant of a German shepherd, ‘Pip’ our tabby cat, and the budgie – in her cage! Whatever gerbils or hamsters we had at the time must have been farmed out to school friends, the fish would have been given one of those slow release food blocks and the stick insects ample supply of privet stalks in a jar of water. Such was our household!
Earlier today I remembered one particular budgie we had who became quite tame. When budgies get stressed they pull out their wing feathers, I have no idea why, but that’s what they do. And this particular one did. The vet prescribed lots of company and handling for the stressed bird. It worked a treat. After school every day we would come home, make sure all the windows and outside doors were shut and take the budgie out. She would perch on one’s shoulder happy as Larry as you went about chores, she took to gently nibbling your ear when she was particularly content. Eventually her wing feathers grew back, which actually led to her demise as one sad day she flew out of an open window and never found her way back home. Before that though, while her wing feathers were still growing back, there was a period of a couple of weeks when she would launch off one’s shoulder aiming for a book shelf, or picture rail. It didn’t matter how hard she flapped her wings, she would end up flying in a circle whilst losing height at rapid rate, landing in a most undignified manner on the floor, wings out wide! She had only pulled out the feathers on one wing. Always a bit perturbed by the unexpected outcome of her efforts, she would sit especially close to one’s neck after being scooped up and returned to the safety of a shoulder. It was the cutest, funniest, most pathetic thing to watch!!
The memory came to me earlier today as I was reflecting on a conversation I had with a friend yesterday about healthy teams, departments and organizations. We were saying how crucial it is to have both excellent management and excellent leadership whilst having just either or, eventually leads to a dead end. There are many things in life that work best when in tandem with something else. A left wing and a right wing, Justice and Mercy, exercise and rest, music and silence, company and time alone, work and play, preparation and execution…. Management and Leadership.