What is it about eagles that make us associate this majestic bird with leadership qualities?
The bald eagle is, for example, America's national bird. We use the bird to convey our leadership positioning in the world. In the Boy Scouts, the top scout ranking is that of the Eagle Scout.
If you think about it, it makes sense that the eagle is a symbol of strong leadership.
Eagles live on top of lofty mountains. Just as a leader is at the peak of an organization, an eagle sits atop the highest points in the natural world.
The eagle soars high above when it is hunting. This is a good leadership lesson. To be effective, leaders must have vision. They must be able to see things that others cannot. They cannot get mired in the details and must soar above the minutiae of running the business. At the same time, like an eagle, they must occasionally swoop down and get hands on with the business.
Eagles, like good leaders, are bent on self-improvement. An older eagle will tear out its older feathers to maintain its flying abilities. This is quite painful, but the eagle knows that it cannot rest on its laurels. So too, a good leader knows that he must set an example for his organization and engage in a continuous exercise of self-improvement.
During winter months when prey is scarce, eagles sometimes scavenge on carrion to supplement their diet. Is there a leadership lesson in this otherwise fairly disgusting trait? You bet. A good leader will do whatever it takes to succeed. On occasion, a leader must do unpleasant things. It's part of the job.
Finally, it is interesting that bald eagles lay two, occasionally three, eggs that are incubated by both parents, in turns for 34 to 36 days. It's noteworthy that the eagles take turns building up the next generation. It is a good lesson for leaders. You can't do it alone. You need to get the team involved. And, importantly, you need to constantly be thinking about raising the next generation of good leaders from within your company.