What People Expect of a Leader

There are seven things sheep want from a shepherd:

1. They expect shepherds to be concerned for their safety. People want the assurance that their organization is wise enough to survive in turbulent times and will provide for their futures. A protector who is concerned with the welfare of his flock won’t hesitate to communicate the possibilities and the perils looming on the horizon.
2. They expect shepherds to know them by name. When a responsible shepherd enters the fold, his sheep respond to him because he calls them by name. We cannot underestimate the value of establishing a connection with every person on our team – even if that number is large. The bond is strengthened each time people hear us speak their names.
3. They expect shepherds to be gentle and kind. When people you serve are less than cooperative, it’s not an excuse for retaliation. As Dwight D. Eisenhower said about his war experiences, “You do not lead by hitting people over the head – that’s assault, not leadership.” If you feel the urge to lash out at those around you, get tough on yourself. That’s where discipline yields the greatest harvest.
4. They expect shepherds to rescue them. What is our response when one of our employees becomes distracted? Do we let him stay off course and struggle to find his way back, or do we stop what we’re doing and give him our attention? Jesus said a good shepherd would leave a flock of 99 to go after the lost sheep until he finds it. That’s true of leadership.
5. They expect shepherds to be unselfish. The president of a chain of stores was under pressure to cut costs. Much as he hated it, he was forced to eliminate the Christmas bonus for his employees. Later, the president was awarded a check of $20,000 for balancing the budget. He immediately divided it with his staff. People expect to participate in decisions that affect the quality, quantity, and climate of their work. It must be a partnership that includes rewards. When one succeeds, all succeed.
6. They expect shepherds to be sincere. A fellow who was flying to a business meeting found a bug in his salad. He fired off a letter to the airlines. By the time he got back to his office, a letter was waiting for him. He was impressed by what it said, until he saw a note stuck to the back, which said: “Send this character the regular Bug Letter.” Leaders can’t afford to be artificial. They must be genuine.
7. They expect shepherds to care deeply about them. If we truly don’t respect and love people, we should resign from any position of responsibility that involves personal contact. Sheep want shepherds who are sensitive and responsive to their personal and professional needs. As this sign posted on a bulletin board says, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

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