Soundview Executive Book Summaries

The Rules of the Roost

We at Soundview have covered a lot of business books featuring metaphors about elephants and penguins and zebras – but none about chickens. I suppose the reason there aren’t many leadership books built around a chicken metaphor is because a) chickens don’t exude a lot of brute strength or courage and b) we (many of us) eat them. However, I was thinking about leadership and contemplating “pecking order” and that led me to research the elementary form of top down leadership evident in chicken yards.

Pecking order is, in the poultry world, a well-defined hierarchical pattern of behavior, according to an article about “Dealing With Aggressive Poultry” that I found on the Broad Leys Publishing site.

There’s a “top bird” typically a male, but sometimes an “old hen,” whom the others generally stay clear of especially making way for him or her to get to the feed. None of the other birds like to challenge this top bird. The pecking order continues down to the weakest, which has to dodge the attacks of the more powerful birds. And if a bird is wounded – well, according to the article, this excites the other birds into a pecking frenzy and it can lead to cannibalism.

Environment plays a role in chicken behavior, the article states. Flock density is an issue – you have to have room for the chickens to move around – you have to give them some space to get away from other birds that are bothering them. The more birds there are in a given area, the more likely they are to peck each other.
And when new birds are put into an existing flock, that can create problems because it disrupts the pecking order, so there are ways to get them familiar with each other before dropping a stranger into a herd of wary birds.

We can find leadership templates in the most unusual places if we look hard enough. Fortunately, there are some great business book authors who do the searching for us and bring the lessons and strategies of demonstrated leaders to our attention. We’ve recently completed a featured review of Power, Ambition, Glory by Steve Forbes and John Prevas. They have drawn some unique parallels between Ancient World leaders and some of today’s leaders.

Steve Forbes will discuss this comparison of leaders in the upcoming SOUNDVIEW LIVE 3:00 p.m. EST, September 22nd. The event is a 60-minute interactive conversation during which attendees are encouraged to submit questions. Note: Attendance is limited to the first 1000 registrants.


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