Don’t consult your people for leadership

“What a shitty weather”, he complains while his car is fighting through wind and rain out of the city heading to this place in the middle of nowhere. The navigation system points to a spot along the lonely road. His assisstant had sent him the coordinates with the information to take a warm jacket. His boss requested him to come. Something about leadership – if he remembers correctly. But why on a Saturday? and why at this place?

Through the fog, a parking lot unfolds. He reduces the speed and turns right. His colleagues are already there. Nice. Now he needs to spend a weekend with the same people he doesn’t like from Monday to Friday. He pulls his well-polished car next to the others, kills the V6 engine and gets out to say HI to everyone. Fuck! His nice leather shoes sink into the muddy ground. He forces his face into a smile and raises the hand to greet everyone. Let the weekend begin.

The challenge for this team unfolds quickly when a shepherd joins the group, leads them to a nearby flock and lets them know that their task is to bring all the sheep to a new place. He hands over his dog, a map and the warning that sheep are expensive. They need to pay for each sheep that they loose along the way. He says goodbye and leaves.

How to lead a flock? No one knows.

Puzzled and insecure they are looking at the sheep. The herd is steering back – from a hundred eyes, it feels. The lady in the group is the first one recovering from the shock. ‚This cannot be so hard‘, she announces and walks right towards the sheep. They scatter. This doesn‘t work in moving the whole group in one direction.

The next colleague tries to talk to the dog – something needs to be done with him, right? Maybe there is a secret command on which he might bring the sheep on the road!? It doesn‘t work.

After several other failures, the management group walks a few steps away from the herd – to rest and to get a cigarette. Then the miracle happens: the herd moves in their direction. ‚They are following us‘, one is celebrating, ‚let‘s continue walking.‘

As the team takes the next steps, all sheep get into motion – following them peacefully. For those who are almost left behind, the dog starts running and chasing them to stay together. It feels like a miracle.

The management team reaches the destination with all sheep and proudfully hands them to the shepherd who awaited them. As they are discussing what they have learned, they are realizing that leadership doesn‘t work when they fight each other or focus on the herd. As leaders, they need to align on one direction and then boldly walk in unity – trusting that the herd will follow. And they will.

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