I learned early on in my leadership development, by both example and experience, that it is important to take care of people. Eventually, this became one the core attributes of my leadership philosophy and practice. However, I experienced a time at one organization when it seemed like, by being very intentional about taking care of my specific employee group, I was fighting an uphill battle of resistance among much of my surrounding leadership team. It felt like whenever I tried to identify and implement something that would allow my employees to feel taken care of, my peers within leadership tried to derail rather than support me.
It was during that time that I came across the book, The Way of the Shepherd, by Kevin Leman and William Pentak. This particular book was a wonderful encouragement to me in reinforcing my belief in the importance of taking care of people (especially when my encouragement at that time was not coming from the people around me). I resonated with the principles and ideas within, so much so that I have since used the book again in other places as a leadership study.
The book draws lessons on leadership from an illustration of a modern shepherd and his sheep. In the process, management principles are presented that focus on character, priorities, and caring, aimed at engaging your employees and developing yourself. Using the shepherd/sheep analogy, Leman and Pentak expound on these 7 principles:
- Know the condition of your flock – know your people, engage your people, and care about your people
- Discover the shape of your sheep – choose and use people that fit, according to their strengths
- Help your sheep identify with you – communicate authenticity and a shared vision
- Make your pasture a safe place – build security and significance, and address issues
- Use the staff of direction – provide direction, empower people, and help them grow
- Use the rod of correction – protect, correct, and inspect
- Develop the heart of a shepherd – live a genuine example of caring leadership
It’s a fairly short book, easy to read, but I found it to be a great resource and encouragement in my leadership. The principles make sense and are very applicable for effective leadership. This is definitely a book for your shelf if you are trying to make a difference in your people.
Leman, K., and Pentak, W. (2004). The Way of the Shepherd: 7 Ancient Secrets to Managing Productive People. Zondervan: Grand Rapids, MI.