Calling all CEOs, presidents, vice presidents, managers, leaders, entrepreneurs, headS of the household!
Sharing with you a little secret that may benefit you, your people, your work and everything that fits in between. This is an ancient management style that dates back to more than four thousand years ago and is still very applicable today.
Let's travel back in time when sheep were tended and kept for their milk, meat and wool. Agriculture sector was the highest contributor to the global GDP. Here are some valuable lessons on leadership from the shepherds themselves.
1. KNOW THE CONDITION OF YOUR FLOCK
Take time to get to know them, one sheep at a time. This can be done by engaging your people on a regular basis. Keep your eyes open and ears out and get among the people. Look how Jesus spent time with his disciples.
2. DISCOVER THE SHAPE OF YOUR SHEEP
Know their Strength, Heart, Attitude, Personality and Experiences. This allows each member of your team to work in an area where they can make a difference.
3. HELP YOUR SHEEP IDENTIFY WITH YOU
People, like sheep, have a powerful flocking instinct. Great leaders “instill a sense of meaning and belonging in their followers by putting the personal imprint of who they are and what they stand for on their people.” You my communicate the values and mission of your team.
4. MAKE YOUR PASTURE A SAFE PLACE
This is very interesting. According to the author, a sheep will not produce the best wool and gain the most weight unless the sheep gets the right nourishment. They will not rest unless they feel safe from harm, pests and rivalry. People on the other hand also become more productive if they are well-informed (rather than always anticipating danger of i.e. getting fired). Pests may come in the form of gossip or unnecessary memos. These may distract them from their daily routine. Rivalry may be controlled through regular rotation of people to fresh pastures, giving them assurance that all positions are important.
5. THE STAFF OF DIRECTION
Now I know why Shepherds need the staff! Since sheep have this herd mentality, they would generally follow the sheep in front of it. The shepherd can use the staff to nudge the lead sheep to the direction where the he wants the flock to go. The shepherd uses the staff, first and foremost, to set the direction. Secondly, the staff establishes boundaries. Sheep can only see up to 15 yards away, and so if they have turned to a wrong direction, the shepherd can nudge the sheep back to safety. This is a manner of leading through persuasion not coercion. Lastly, the staff is to get a sheep out of trouble. The curved end of the staff is used to grab the sheep out of the danger zone. Good leaders must not forget to encourage the bruised employee and let him feel the support.
6. THE ROD OF CORRECTION
The rod looks like a short club. At first, I thought it is a smaller and thicker version of a staff, but it’s not. It is actually a heavy weapon that when you toss can actually kill coyotes, wild dogs and foxes. A number of its uses include: to protect the flock from predators. As a leader, you must show that you are worthy of your members’ trust by dealing with the people from other department who may already be humiliating your member. You should take the heat or blow for the predator, and then just talk to your member privately afterwards. Second, the rod is used for disciplining. Discipline, or discipulus in Latin, means pupil. Disciplining is done not to punish or humiliate, but to teach. Third, the rod is used for inspection. It is used to count the sheep after leading the sheep back to a safe place at night. In leading humans, it symbolizes the ‘inspection’ of progress, through inquiring or even challenging them.
7. THE HEART OF THE SHEPHERD
Great leadership is very costly. I’m not sure if you are willing to pay the price for this type of leadership, but I believe you can, especially if you’ve read this far. The way of the shepherd requires time, commitment, your personal energy and involvement. It will cost a great deal of you. This is not a technique but an outlook. How much you give to your flock depends on how much you value them. Do you see them as ‘hirelings,’ - those who are just part of your expenses? Or are they people you care for?
The quality of your return is based on the quality of your investment. If you give them half-hearted leadership, then you gain half-hearted loyalty. But if you invest fully, you will get a fully committed earnest following. It’s your call. What kind of a leader do you want to be?
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A lovely song written by King David about a Shepherd
PSALM 231 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.
4 Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death, a]">[a]
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
1. The Way of the Shepherd by Dr. Kevin Leman and William Pentak