What is a leader? What are the traits of a great leader? I read many books on leadership and success – it’s part of my job.
As I’m pondering about leadership traits, I decide to take a midmorning break. It’s time to fix breakfast for Sunny and Flipper, my two feathered kids. Somewhere between chopping apples, bananas and walnuts I realize many of the leadership traits I’ve read about over the years I’ve noticed them in Sunny!
Sunny is a great, good – natured bird. Most of the time he allows Flipper to push him around even though he is much stronger than her and bigger (about a third bigger in body weight). I keep telling him to stand up to her but he’s such a sweetheart.
All that changes when I take him and Flipper to visit Southern California. There I stay with my friend Barbara and her four birds: Charger, Titi, Popeye, and Max. Yes, that makes SIX birds all in one home, and YES, she has great neighbors!
And my little, sweet Sunny becomes Sunny the fearless leader of the whole flock. He’ll use any weapon he has at his disposal to keep US (the featherless, hapless humans) away from HIS flock, HIS kingdom. Those of you familiar with parrots know how powerful those beaks can be…
And what kind of leader is Sunny?
Takes charge: Sunny is a leader that’s not asking for permission – he just takes charge. He doesn’t get intimidated by the size of the other birds: Charger (a Blue and Gold macaw) is much bigger than him. Sunny is also not shy about what he thinks his position is: on the highest perch. And he has no qualms about “sharing” his opinion (he is louder than anyone, bird or human)
Responsible and Vigilant: Sunny protects his team (flock) – he’ll keep an eye on humans not to approach ANY of HIS birds. When we do, he’ll threaten us: his eyes flashing, his tail fanned and beak ready to bite: he is beautiful and dangerous. He takes his responsibility seriously – so much so that at the end of the visit his weight drops by 5 to 10 percent.
Benevolent and kind: he doesn’t harm those much smaller or weaker than him. A good example is how he interacts with Max, the smallest bird in “his” flock. Occasionally, Max decides he wants the bird stand or the perch Sunny is on. Barbara and I will go in unison, “MAAAX, stop that!” but the situation resolves swiftly. Rather than harm him, Sunny will fly off the stand and let him have it.
(I find it interesting how two people (Barbara and I) can say the same thing when admonishing Max, yet the meaning is ENTIRELY different! My “Max, stop that” means “you little brat!” and Barbara’s means “isn’t he adorable?!”. Well, he is beautiful and smart; so that would make him an adorable little brat?)
With his take-charge attitude, stepping up to the responsibility of taking care of the welfare and safety of his team, and treating them with kindness, Sunny makes a good leader. Now if he could just see the benefits of equal treatment (of us, the featherless humans : ) he would make a top-notch leader!
When we leave Southern California and get back home, for the next two weeks, Sunny, the fearless leader, keeps looking for his flock. I won’t watch any bird documentaries on TV during this period – with or without him in the room. He can hear the bird sounds from wherever he is in the house. I want him to relax and get back to normal. Two weeks later, more or less, my little sweet Sunny is back. Until the next visit.
IMPORTANT TO KNOW
For younger readers, new pet owners, and others not too familiar with the pet world.
- When considering giving a pet as a gift please remember to adopt NOT purchase.
- Also, please remember, every pet has a basic right of having a loving, stable, and safe family environment.
As for the birds – yes, they look cute but it takes SERIOUS time commitment and PATIENCE. And ear-plugs : )
(I’m kidding about the ear-plugs, of course!)