Today’s post is the featured article from the July 2012 issue of The Front Porch Newsletter. If you would like to automatically receive The Front Porch e-newsletter on the last Thursday of each month just click here to sign-up for your complimentary subscription.
Recently, a friend got me thinking about this. You might think this is a bunch of “baa” … but I think there is a simple, yet powerful, leadership lesson to be considered. A lot has been written about “servant leadership” in the last decade. It is a powerful concept that, when followed, enhances the experience of a leader’s followers. Yet, I have not seen a lot written about another concept of leadership. Maybe this one is just too simple or seems too ordinary. Not worthy of any “C-suite” … and certainly not of Wall Street. It is simply this …
Lead like a shepherd.
It might be the ultimate form of “servant” leadership. There is no question that the shepherd is there for the sheep. Sheep can’t see very well, but they have a very keen sense of hearing. And they know their shepherd’s voice. In the midst of their keen sense of hearing, they follow their shepherd’s voice. They follow that one voice for one reason … they know it is a voice they can trust.
There is one thing the simple shepherd has that many people in “positions of leadership” do not have. Faithful followers!
I am not suggesting the employees of a company are like sheep … blind and aimlessly wandering. But, like sheep, I am saying that employees do want to be led.
They want a voice they can trust.
And when employees hear the voice they know they can trust … you can bet they will follow. There is, however, one big difference between sheep and employees. Employees can also see. This might explain why it might be harder to be a leader than it is to be a shepherd!
Shepherds don’t care what they look like. They simply care about their sheep. While their role is pretty simple … their ability to be effective is the difference of life and death to their sheep. It is hard to be sheep when the shepherd (hence the leader) is the one who is blind and aimlessly wandering. It is also dangerous. While it is hard to be a leader … it is easy to aimlessly wander.
I am convinced, more than ever, that any leader who doesn’t clearly know their own core is leading a herd who doesn’t know their shepherd’s voice. We don’t need more celebrity leaders.
We need more Shepherds.
Or, at least, we need more leaders who are willing to do the hard work of knowing their own core. It is there that a leader’s voice begins to stand-out in the midst of all the noise.