Friday, July 13, 2012

The seven principles of great leadership...

I recently just finished reading "The Way of the Shepherd" by Kevin Leman and Bill Pentak. If you are in a leadership position of any kind, I would highly recommend reading this book. I even would recommend reading this book if you aren't in a leadership position because it outlines and discusses principles that are relevant for anyone. Here are the seven principles:

1 - Know the conditions of your flock
  • Follow the status of your people as well as the status of the work.
  • Get to know your flock, one sheep at a time.
  • Engage your people on a regular basis.
  • Keep your eyes and ears open, question, and follow through.
2 - Discover the shape of your sheep
  • Your choice of sheep can make flock management easier or harder.
  • Start with healthy sheep, or you'll inherit someone else's problems.
  • Know the shape of your sheep to make sure they're in the right fold.
3 - Help your sheep identify with you
  • Build trust with your followers by modeling authenticity, integrity, and compassion.
  • Set high standards of performance
  • Relentlessly communicate your values and sense of mission.
  • Define the cause for your people and tell them where they fit in.
  • Remember that great leadership isn't just professional; it's personal.
4 - Make your pasture a safe place
  • Keep your people well informed.
  • Infuse every position with importance.
  • Cull chronic instigators from the flock.
  • Regularly rotate the sheep to fresh pastures.
  • Reassure the sheep by staying visible.
  • Don't give problems time to fester.
5 - The staff of direction
  • Know where you're going, get out in front, and keep your flock on the move.
  • When directing, use persuasion rather than coercion.
  • Give your people freedom of movement, but make sure they know where the fence line is. Don't confuse boundaries with bridles!
  • When your people get in trouble, go and get them out.
  • Remind your people that failure isn't fatal.
6 - The rod of correction
  • Protect: Stand in the gap and fight for your sheep.
  • Correct: Approach discipline as a teaching opportunity.
  • Inspect: Regularly inquire about your people's progress.
7 - The heart of the shepherd
  • Great leadership is a lifestyle, not a technique.
  • Every day you have to decide who's going to pay for your leadership ~ you or your people.
  • Most of all, have a heart for your sheep.

**As you read this list, you might think how arrogant it is to refer to colleagues as "your people" and "sheep." I would agree that using these terms is not characteristic of great leadership, but for the purpose of this book and story the terms seem to fit well.