The Way of the Shepherd, written by Dr. Kevin Leman and William Pentak, presents the reader with seven basic and ancient foundations to successful leadership. Throughout the story these essential management principles are imparted upon a young novice reporter through an interview of one of the most successful CEOs in the United States. During this interview the CEO communicates these seven ancient leadership elements that can be applied in today’s hectic business environments. The first principle, Know the Condition of Your Flock, stresses the importance of people to the successful manager.
The CEO points out it is important to understand the condition of your people in addition to the status of their work. The people can become a manager’s greatest competitive advantage if they are understood and treated properly. If a manger takes a personal interest in each of the employees and treats them as individuals, then management becomes more effective. Discover the Shape of Your Sheep is all about identifying strengths and weaknesses of these individuals to ensure they are in the correct position.
A person’s skill set should apply to the task they are assigned and they should be motivated to apply these skill sets. It is also important to have people with positive attitudes and have personalities that complement their assignments. These along with people’s experience can determine how effective they will be in certain positions. Discovering and understanding all this information makes the task of lesson three that much easier; Help Your Sheep Identify With You. Build trust with your followers through genuineness, integrity and compassion.
Getting people to want to follow you by giving them a sense of meaning and belonging is a true sign of leadership. Clear communication of values and mission, defined roles and high standards of performance are instrumental in getting people to follow your lead. Make Your Pasture a Safe Place, is all about protecting what you have established in the previous lessons. Identifying and addressing problems in the organization quickly is essential. Keeping your people well informed of these problems and subsequent actions help quell anxiety and the spread of rumors.
It is also important to make every person feel essential in the organization to avoid internal rivalries and provide job security. Possibly the most important is to rid your organization of detractors. If they refuse to be a positive influence in the group and hurt the organization then cut them loose. The Staff of Direction, is all about guiding your people along the right path without coercion. Know where you want your organization to go, plan the path and keep you people moving towards those goals. Avoid dictating and demanding and try suggestions.
Set an example for them to follow, not just making pronouncements. It is important to allow your people freedom to find their way, but also to set firm boundaries for them to avoid. Most importantly help your people when they get in trouble and use these mistakes as learning opportunities. Discipline in the workplace an always be a tricky task for any manager. The Rod of Correction, sets out to establish a foundation to approach this aspect of management. First of all it is important for you to protect your people from external threats and let them know you will protect them when needed.
This can go a long way to help avoid some conflicts in the workplace. Also, monitoring your people’s progress along with the work’s progress can help you identify potential problems before they grow. The final aspect of discipline in the workplace is correcting these problems arise. Remember it is better to approach these situations as learning opportunities instead strictly punishment. Hopefully the first two steps mitigate most of the issue before they require any severe corrections. The last secret, The Heart of the Shepherd, ties everything together and reveals the most essential part of management.
This is the most demanding aspect for the manager and often one that is neglected. The leader has to truly care for his people and be willing to make the commitment to them. Making the necessary sacrifices and showing your people that you have a heart for your people is the mark of a great leader. Never ask more of them then you are willing to give. Don’t just be a hireling, give yourself to your people and they will reward you in return. The Way of the Shepherd is a simple no nonsense book on the basics of being an effective manager.
I doubt many readers will find a grand revelations in the concisely written book. The authors help put these basic and timeless lessons into perspective for any level manager. Likely many have never seen the information presented in this manner and this is where I think the book really shines. I can easily see myself going back to this book regularly in the future. This book helps remind the reader that the basics matter and can make or break a leader. Periodic self-evaluation by a manager with the help of this book could help some mediocre managers make the transition to greatness.