Are You a Shepherd or a Rancher?

If you are in management/leadership, you will immediately notice the difference between the two photos above. The first picture symbolizes a leadership style of management, which is the preferred method. The Shepherd leads the flock to the desired destination. (S)he is out front showing the flock the way to go. If there are any obstacles in their path, the Shepherd will be the first to recognize those obstacles and adjust the flock accordingly. The Shepherd also does not ask the flock to go anywhere that (s)he has not already gone personally. As a result of the Shepherd's leadership, the flock willingly follows and trusts that (s)he will take them on a safe and productive journey.

By contrast, the Rancher pushes the herd from behind. Unfortunately this management style is far too prevalent in business. The Rancher uses force and intimidation to get the herd to do what (s)he wants them to do. (S)he demands that the herd go along the path first. If there is any danger or obstacle(s) ahead, the herd may encounter them first, which could result in casualties due to inexperience. The result of this type of management style is that even though the herd reaches the desired destination, they do so with resentment and without loyalty.

There are times when both styles are necessary. After you have shown yourself as a leader and the team is veering off course, you may have to get behind them and corral them with a little force. But this should be the exception, not the rule. By showing yourself as a true leader, your team will reward you with loyalty, increased performance and with a less stressful environment. If you are already a Shepherd, I want to congratulate you! If you are currently a Rancher, I want to encourage you to train on becoming a Shepherd. YOUR TEAM WILL THANK YOU!