HOW TO BE A GOOD LEADER
How to be a good leader? I think it is a difficult question. Dr John
C. Maxwell has suggested one of the most important methods, `Don`t
send your duck to eagle school`, in his following essay. Read it, think
over it and state your ideas so that we can learn from each other and
draw out the best methods to become good leaders.
Don’t Send Your Duck to Eagle School – Dr John C. Maxwell
My wife, Margaret, and I love Krispy Kreme doughnuts. When we pass a
Krispy Kreme shop, we always look for the red neon “Hot Dough nuts
Now” sign that tells potential customers that the doughnuts have just been
made and are coming off the assembly line, hot and fresh and deli cious.
Although we do not allow ourselves to indulge often, occasionally we
can’t help but give in to temptation. If we see the red light on, one of us
will say, “It’s a sign from God that we should stop and buy a doughnut!”
One evening when we were approaching a Krispy Kreme shop, we could
clearly see that the light was not on, but we decided to stop anyway.
Much to our delight and surprise, the doughnuts were just coming off the
conveyer belt, hot and gooey.
“You forgot to turn on the sign to let the customers know the dough nuts
are warm and fresh,” I said to the young lady who waited on us.
“Oh, I don’t turn that sign on a lot of the time,” she replied. “The moment
I do, people come into the store and we get too busy. If I keep the sign
off, it’s less hectic.”
I was stunned. I wondered, Why would she think like that? At first it
didn’t make sense to me. But then, as I thought about it, I realized it was
a matter of her position influencing her perception. She was an employee
who didn’t want to be inconvenienced. Certainly if the owners had been
there, they would have turned the sign on! They wouldn’t be hoping for
convenience—they would have the success of the whole business and all
of its employees in mind.
For more than three decades, I have hosted conferences and written books
with the purpose of adding value to people. Experience has taught me a
valuable lesson: no matter what I do or how hard I try to help people, not
everyone will respond in the same way. Some people will attend a
conference and their lives will start to turn around. Others will come and
tune out everything I say. Some will change; some won’t. That has
always frustrated me. I want everyone to learn, change, grow, and get
I experienced a “eureka moment” not long ago when I read something by
speaker and consultant Jim Rohn. The article brought me great clarity on
this issue. He has given me permission to share his words with you:
The first rule of management is this: don’t send your ducks to eagle
school. Why? Because it won’t work. Good people are found, not
changed.They can change themselves, but you can’t change them. If you
want good people, you have to find them. If you want motivated people,
you have to find them, not motivate them.
I picked up a magazine not long ago in New York that had a full-page ad
in it for a hotel chain. The first line at the ad read, “We do not teach our
people to be nice.” Now that got my attention. The second line said, “We
hire nice people.” I thought, “What a clever shortcut!”
Motivation is a mystery. Why are some people motivated and some are
not? Why does one salesperson see his first prospect at seven in the
morning while the other sees his first prospect at eleven in the morning?
Why would one start at seven and the other start at eleven? I don’t know.
Call it “mysteries of the mind.”
I give lectures to a thousand people at a time. One walks out and says,
“I’m going to change my life.” Another walks out with a yawn and says,
I’ve heard all this stuff before.” Why is that?
The wealthy man says to a thousand people, “I read this book, and it
started me on the road to wealth.” Guess how many of the thousand go
out and get the book? Answer: very few. Isn’t that incredible? Why
wouldn’t everyone go get the book? Mysteries of the mind….
To one person, you have to say, “You’d better slow down. You can’t
work that many hours, do that many things, go, go, go. You’re going to
have a heart attack and die.” And to another person, you have to say,
“When are you going to get off the couch?” What is the difference? Why
wouldn’t everyone strive to be wealthy and happy?
Chalk it up to mysteries of the mind, and don’t waste your time trying to
turn ducks into eagles. Hire people who already have the motivation and
drive to be eagles and then just let them soar,
Jim’s perspective explains why the worker at Krispy Kreme didn’t turn
on the sign, and why I was so surprised. While I was thinking about
generating income and maximizing profits, she was thinking about
avoiding too much work.
Three Reasons Not to Send Your Ducks to Eagle School
For years my problem was that I believed that if I worked hard and taught
the right things, I could turn ducks into eagles. It just doesn’t work. I have
to admit, this has been a hard lesson for me. I place a high value on
people. I sincerely believe that every person matters. And for years, I
believed that anyone could learn just about anything. As a result, I
repeatedly tried to send my ducks to eagle school. Here why I no longer
1. If You Send Ducks to Eagle School, You Will Frustrate the Ducks
Let’s face it. Ducks are not supposed to be eagles—nor do they want to
become eagles. Who they are is who they should be. Ducks have their
strengths and should be appreciated for them. They’re excellent
swimmers. They are capable of working together in an amazing display
of teamwork and travel long distances together. Ask an eagle to swim or
to migrate thousands of miles, and it’s going to be in trouble.
Leadership is all about placing people in the right place so they can be
successful. As a leader, you need to know and value your people for who
they are and let them work according to their strengths. There’s nothing
wrong with ducks. Just don’t ask them to soar or hunt from a high
altitude. It’s not what they do.
Author, pastor, and Dallas Theological Seminary chancellor Charles
Swindoll illustrates this principle in his book Growing Strong in the
Seasons of Life when he writes,
Once upon a time, the animals decided they should do something
meaningful to meet the problems of the new world. So they organized a
They adopted an activity curriculum of running, climbing, swimming,
and flying. To make it easier to administer, all the animals took all the
The duck was excellent in swimming. In fact, he was better than his
instructor was! However, he made only passing grades in flying, and was
very poor in running. Since he was so slow in running, he had to drop
swimming and stay after school to practice running. This caused his
webbed feet to be badly worn so he became only average in swimming.
But ‘average’ was quite acceptable, therefore nobody worried about it—-
except the duck.
The rabbit started at the top of his class in running, but developed a
nervous twitch in his leg muscles because he had so much makeup work
to do in swimming.
The squirrel was excellent in climbing, but he encountered constant
frustration in flying class because his teacher made him start from the
ground up instead of from the treetop down. He developed “charley
horses” front overexertion, so he only got a “C” in climbing and a “D” in
The eagle was a problem child and was severely disciplined for being a
non-conformist. In climbing classes, he beat all the others to the top, but
insisted on using his own way of getting there!
All people have strengths they can use to contribute. In The 17
Indisputable Laws of Teamwork, I teach The Law of the Niche, which
says, All players have a place where they add the most value.” Successful
people have discovered their niche. Successful leaders help their people
discover theirs. As a leader, you should always challenge people to move
out of their comfort zone, but never out of their strength zone. If people
are moved out of their strength zone, they soon won’t be in any kind of
zone—comfort, strength, or effectiveness.
2. If You Send Ducks to Eagle School, You Will Frustrate the Eagles