The Way of the Shepherd: 7 Ancient Secrets to Managing Productive People by Dr. Kevin Leman and William Pentak is an excellent leadership book that will leave a positive impact on the way you lead your team. Several Centennial team members have read this practical book and it has become a favorite. We especially appreciate the book’s emphasis on caring for your employees. This is something we emphasize for any organization that wants to attract and retain top talent.
A Story Full of Practical Lessons
This short book is well worth an hour of your time. Its format is reminiscent of The Karate Kid. The main character learns leadership lessons from a coach who appears to have forgotten what he’s supposed to be teaching (remember “wax on, wax off”?) Rather then waxing cars and painting fences, the mentor in The Way of the Shepherd is training through the disciplines of shepherding. Surprisingly, there’s a lot you can learn from someone who cares for sheep.
Told as a contemporary parable, this quick-read gives you 7 leadership secrets to managing productive people. It’s packed full of wisdom that can be applied right away.
One of my favorite quotes is found near the beginning. When an employee was asked why she enjoys working for her boss, she replies “He expects the best from us, and we give it to him because we know he’s giving the best to us in return.” (p 10.) What a great reminder that your team members won’t run from high standards if they know their manager is striving for the same.
Employees Will be Loyal to a Caring Manager
An overarching theme in the book is the importance of truly caring about your people. This involves learning about the members of your team – their skills, their goals, their burdens – and caring about how that affects their day. This takes time, but it is extremely important on a personal and professional level.
“You have to really care about your people. You can go through all the right mechanics, but if you don’t genuinely care about the people who report to you, you’ll never be the kind of leader they’ll drop everything to follow.” (p 27.) Wouldn’t it be reaffirming to know your employees feel this strongly about you?
Employees Will be Loyal to a Manager of Character
“People long to follow a leader who is a person of integrity, authenticity, and compassion. That person will have the loyal following and trust of his people.” (p. 49.) You can’t fake this part. Each decision you make will collectively comprise your character.
Your employees want to know they can trust you. They want to know you’re watching out for them and will not deceive them simply to generate a profit. A manager of good character will shoot straight and be respected for it.
Employees Will be Loyal to a Manager that Stresses Employee Engagement
When your corporate culture involves healthy employee engagement, your retention rates will soar. Employees want to have a clear understanding of what is expected of them and the vision for where they are headed. The more intentional an organization is with their employee engagement, the more likely their employees won’t be looking for something better.
“Companies often spend millions of dollars on training new people because the old ones become frustrated and move on to find greener pastures. The greener-grass syndrome not only ties up a tremendous amount of capital, but it puts an inevitable drag on productivity as we wait for newcomers to come up to speed.” (p. 64)
Learn and Apply These Lessons for Loyal, Hard-Working Employees
These are just a few highlights from Leman and Pentak’s book. If these topics are of interest to you, then I highly recommend getting a copy. As you read the book, if you see gaps in your own leadership or the culture of your organization, Centennial can come alongside of you to help you improve. We can help you make the necessary changes that attracts and retains loyal, diligent employees.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have an employee respond to our leadership in the same way as the example above? “He expects the best from us, and we give it to him because we know he’s giving the best to us in return.” (p. 10.)