Leadership Trait: Being A Good Shepherd

Strong leadership traits come in many forms. One I see often is from those leaders who are able to shepherd an idea/vision that many on their team didn’t, or can’t, see at the start.  It requires  thinking through a situation and presenting a different viewpoint/paradigm than your team can currently envision.   That says easy…does hard.

The 17th century Jesuit priest Balthazar Gracian once said…”Princes loved to be helped, not surpassed. When you counsel someone you should appear to be reminding them of something they had forgotten…not the light they were unable to see.”

Balthazar Gracian sitting at table with book and feather pen

Balthazar Gracian

In my work with senior executives and private equity managers, I’m amazed at their insight and ability to forecast how a person/entity will think. This really is a blessing and a curse.

It’s a blessing in that they see how to play a situation, a curse in that others often do not see/understand their reasoning.

Leaders need to present ideas/visions/direction in such a careful manner that they don’t exclude their team’s participation. Rather, they need to foster a dialogue that provides an opportunity for the team to, eventually, appreciate and accept the idea.

You will need patience and an ability to show the math behind your declaration of direction in a relational, patient, facilitating manner. This a trait of a great leader.

People need time to discuss and debate a new issue to accept it before they move away from the direction they thought to pursue. Great leaders understand this process and are comfortable with it. What they don’t do is ever make their team or a client wrong for not automatically embracing it. They realize it requires time and debate for others to accept it as their own. Once others have done this, they can then get behind the idea/direction as though it was their own too.

Collaborating with your team while still shepherding your vision is a skill that inspires people. It communicates you are an approachable leader who is both knowledgeable and patient versus righteous and selfish.