Now, let me say before getting into this that I am neither an ornithologist nor a bird watcher. If you fall into either of these two categories, you can correct me in my analogies and set the record straight.
It seems to me that there are leaders who are more like hummingbirds in their approach to life and leadership and others who more resemble woodpeckers. Personally, I lean toward the woodpecker. Of course, I’m not saying one is wrong and the other right, or that one is better than the other--just saying some leaders are like one and some like the other.
They move quickly, not spending a lot of time on each flower and give every sign of having ants in their pants (as the old saying goes.) They cover a lot of territory. Their wings (unlike other birds) move so quickly that they almost look like they don’t have any wings (like a propeller moving at top speed). Hummingbird-type people generate a lot of ideas very quickly moving at rapid speed from one idea to the next. They are known for talking very quickly and with great energy and excitement. They can drive woodpecker-types crazy! (Usually high I’s on the DISC.)
They are known for persistently and consistently staying focused on one thing for extended periods of time; pecking away at the same tree and the same hole. They are quite content and patient to stay put and work on one thing, before moving on to the next. They are laser focused, determined and relentless. They can be persnickety and stay with something until it’s darn near perfect. They can drive hummingbird-people crazy! (Usually high C’s on the DISC.)
If a team had all hummingbirds and no woodpeckers, they would be in trouble. The quick changes, bouncing from one idea to the next with very with little warning or think time can wear people out in short order. A woodpecker with a hummingbird as a boss or supervisor gets tired just listening about all the flowers he wants to “attack” in a given period.
If a team had all woodpeckers and no hummingbirds, it would be exceedingly boring with little joy but with long hours of hard work. There would be little creativity, future thinking or idea generation. “Just give me one tree and lots of uninterrupted time and I’m good,” says the woodpecker. Hummingbirds, with a woodpecker as a boss, would be frequently chomping at the bit to get going; feeling like a wild horse locked in a corral with open fields all around but no opportunity to go there.
We all need each other to build and maintain healthy teams. We need plough horses and racehorses. We need dreamers and implementers. We need relational people and task people. We need those who ask tough questions and slow the process down and we need those who see nothing as impossible, have a bias for action and speed the process up. It‘s a matter of rejoicing over our differences rather than resenting our differences.
If you are a hummingbird, thank Jesus for focused and determined woodpeckers that God allows into your life and ministry. If you are a woodpecker, thank Jesus for hummingbirds who keep the air fresh with new ideas as they flap their faster-than-the-speed-of-light wings (well, not really that fast!)
“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord, and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers then all in everyone. All these are empowered by one and the same spirit who apportions to each one individually as he wills.” 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 and 11 (ESV)