** Reviewed,  Leadership,  Pastoral Leadership

Leading Hummingbirds and Eagles

You may be wondering what hummingbirds and eagle have to do with leadership. Let me tell you a little story that I think will help it to make sense. I worked for many years in a local emergency room. After many years of doing this I came to observe that, in general, there were two types of ER nurses, hummingbirds and eagles. I know, your probably even more confused now. Stay with me.

Some people are hummingbirds. A hummingbird flaps its wings so fast that you can’t even see them. They are small birds that work very hard. They buzz from flower to flower, seldom stopping to rest. Some people are like this. They flit around at an often frantic pace. They quickly buzz from one task to the next, seldom taking the time to stop and rest. Think about the hummingbird. Have you ever seen video of one at rest?

Some people are eagles. Think about an eagle in flight. Most of the time he floats on the air currents. When necessary he will flap his wings, but often he will just ride the wind. When hunting, the eagle will ride the currents, watching the ground for his prey. When he spots his prey he quickly swoops in for the kill. Some people are like this. On the outside they don’t appear to be doing much work, but with a task comes up that needs to be completed they swoop in, take care of it and then go back to floating on the currents.

Who is working harder? Well, when we look at these two birds I think we can agree that the hummingbird is working much harder. However, when we look at who is getting the most work done I would say that they both are getting their jobs done. It is the same way with people. The hummingbirds are often working harder than the eagles, but they probably both get similar amounts of work done.

What does this have to do with leadership?  It is important to recognize these two times of people in your ministry. The hummingbirds will often look at the eagles and think that they are not working hard enough. As I mentioned earlier, the hummingbirds ARE working harder than the eagles, but this doesn’t mean they are getting more work done. The danger can be that you, as the leader, could make the same mistake. We have to recognize the different types of people within your ministry and help them to be the best that they can be based on this type. If they are a hummingbird, help them be the best hummingbird they can be. If they are an eagle, help them be the best eagle they can be. What we can’t do is try to make the eagles become hummingbirds, or make the hummingbirds into eagles.

Which one are you? Think about yourself for a minute. Think specifically about Sunday morning, or Wednesday evening, or maybe at VBS. Consider how you operate when the heat is on. Do you lean a little on the frantic side? Or, do you tend to float around waiting for problems to arise and then swoop in to fix them? Are you a hummingbird or an eagle? I think it is important to know this about yourself. Our tendency might be to want to make our team members more like us. If we are eagles we want everyone to be eagles. If we are hummingbirds,  we think everyone should be a hummingbird. This can lead to great frustration in your team. Know which one you are and recognize that not everyone on your team is going to be like you, and this is ok. (it might even be preferred…)

What other types are there? Certainly these are not the only two birds that might describe you or the members of your team. However, I do think that it is important to recognize these two types because of the problems that can come from trying to turn on into the other or expecting the one to behave like the other. What other types of birds would you use to describe yourself or the people on your team?

Matt Norman

Thanks for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it. To ensure that you never miss a post subscribe using the space on the right side of the screen.

I am a Christian, husband, father, pastor, church planter, nurse, and freelance writer.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: