Know Your Ducks & Eagles

A leader achieves nothing by himself, but whenever the team wins leader gets the credit. Think of any popular cricket or football coach. We don’t see them inside the field. They neither play nor score a run or goal. However, everybody gives credit to them for winning.  Why? Because they select the players for the team and chooses their positions according to their strength. Later they motivate the team members daily and coach them. A coach achieves nothing by himself but achieves everything through the team. Therefore the number one job for any leader is to focus on the team and coach them according to their strengths.

There are two kinds of people on every team – the Ducks and the Eagles. Ducks are good, but they always wait for someone to teach them what to do. They are too comfortable, and they don’t show interest in learning new skills or upgrade themselves. They don’t have fire in their bellies to become high performers. They never mind doing the same thing repeatedly for any number of years. Suppose you put your foot down on the accelerator and ask them to produce more, then they fumble.

Now the question is, how can we identify a duck in our team? Very simple, ducks always have ready-made excuses.  They are complacent and not self-starters.  I am too busy, or I can’t do more, or this is not the right time, or I am not made for this, or I am not trained for this, or I’m not too fond of it list goes on. As a leader, you need to understand one thing once a duck is always a duck, and no matter what you do, a duck always likes to swim and not fly. As a young leader, I felt that I could turn any duck into an eagle. In no time, I realized that I am putting undue pressure on both myself and the ducks. I was forcing the ducks to become something that they don’t want to be.

Eagles are different. They love to learn, grow and fly high. They don’t wait for the boss to tell them what to do next. They get bored if they are stuck in the same place for too long. They enjoy helping other team members. They always try to find the big picture of what it is that they are doing. They constantly upgrade themselves and try to do different things. Often when working against recruitment deadlines, we make the mistake of hiring ducks though they quacked during the interview. Sometimes during the interview, it isn’t easy to notice a duck suit underneath their eagle clothes. Ducks are also important for the overall operations. However, we cannot depend on them for the outcome. Also, if you have a team full of eagles, things could get overly competitive and complicated within no time.

A leader needs to understand who the ducks are and who are the eagles in their team. Ducks Quack and Eagles Soar. Ducks keep complaining about everything – coffee, desk, laptop, task, etc. They don’t go the extra mile when needed. These people are mostly losers and attach themselves with the other losers in the company. On the other hand, Eagles have an attitude of gratitude. Another interesting observation I made over the years is that you don’t find ducks alone; they always get surrounded by other losers.

It’s eagles in your team who will help your team and organization to soar.  Once you identify the strengths of each of your team members, then invest quality time in training. Don’t send your ducks to eagles school. To have fewer ducks in your team, stop hiring out of desperation. Take time and hire the most skilled person you can for each position. For this to happen, you should start your recruitment process a little earlier than you need.  Also, keep an eye on the lack of creativity or initiative in your team members. Staff can do every job better. Do not hesitate to terminate a duck when needed. Always remember that no one was successful in converting ducks into eagles, so don’t try.

Before you go…

If you enjoyed this post, you would love my book, “Don’t CoastAccelerate Your Personal and Professional Growth.”

Grab your copy from the below links:

You can subscribe to my social media channels:

Leave a Comment