Michael Synk and friends at his first duck hunt where he learned some leadership lessons. #GetInSynk

Recently, I checked an item off my bucket list. You see, I’ve really wanted to go on a duck hunt, therefore a combination duck hunt / leadership development trip was just what I needed to do.

I took charge of the leadership development portion, and my host took charge of the duck hunt.

I’m not a hunter. Nothing against hunting, it’s just something that I didn’t grow up doing. I’m a big city kid who did the four-sport rotation growing up. In my case, in Michigan, that was baseball, football, hockey, and basketball with some soccer, golf, and swimming thrown in for good measure. Consequently, that meant no duck hunts.

Since I moved to Memphis 26 years ago, I’ve been intrigued by the passionate duck hunting conversations between my duck hunting friends. I’ve really wanted to see what goes on during a hunt that makes these guys so passionate.

The collaborative conversations that took place to plan out the next morning’s hunt were the first things that I noticed.

They came to agreement on the who, what, when, where, and the logistics of how the hunt would take place. No blaming, no shaming. All were aimed at coming to agreement on a plan of action that took in the input and talents of everyone going on the hunt, including me, the rookie on the team.

The special duck hunting language and lingo ensures that everyone knows what’s going on and what their roles will be. Everyone was fully engaged.

Come to think of it, that’s great business practice.

The next morning, the plan from the evening before was fully executed. Not that there weren’t obstacles along the way, but because all the objectives were agreed upon and committed to, the hunters were able to flex their way to the duck blind. No time lost. Everyone had each other’s back.

On to the plan.

At the blind, we took up our assigned roles. Two hunters called the ducks in and also directed the rest of us on when and where to look to shoot. The tension brought everyone to full attention. Ducks were called, announced, and then fired upon, with the dog being released immediately to fetch the kill.

Then, we were off to a celebratory breakfast in town with more conversations.

Stories, stories, stories.

That’s when I really understood what was going on and the passion for it. Duck hunting is a culture. One that’s built on camaraderie, conversation, inclusion, celebration, and alignment around a common goal. We came, we saw, and we conquered. Veni, vidi, vici.

A good leader aims for the same thing in an organization. Imagine if your culture was as intense and engaging as the duck hunters on a hunting trip. It’s possible, and it’s what I work on with my clients. When my clients achieve it, the hunt is on and growth ensues.

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