The Way of the Shepherd is an excellent little book on leadership that has profoundly impacted many people including me. I often use it as a supplemental text in the management and leadership courses I teach and it is often the most impactful part of the course. Many businesses and schools are now using it as a leadership approach now as a result of those classes.
The first of the seven principles of The Way of the Shepherd is “Know the Condition of Your Flock”. In other words – get to know your people and what is going on in their lives. As I have taught that, I often assumed that people would simply go and get to know their people. What I have found is that people need “handles” – how do they go about getting to know your people? Well, here are a few suggestions:
First – if you do assessments of your people, go get copies of their assessments and study them. Find out their personality types and what that means. Find out their history in your organization. Study your people.
Secondly, after you have studied them on paper, set up a time to meet with them. For this type meeting, if you can, meet somewhere offsite. Maybe even over a meal. But make it a neutral site as people seem to be freer in their conversations vs. being in a “work” setting.
Thirdly, just ask a few simple questions. Following are some simple questions that are very illuminating about people and are more powerful than they first appear:
- Where did you grow up?
- Tell me about your family – how many siblings did you have?
- What was your biggest challenge as a child?
- What did you want to be when you grew up?
- Right now in your life – what causes you the most frustration?
- Right now – what makes you smile?
Simple questions, but it is amazing the conversations that they generate and how much you learn about your team.
Hope you have a great weekend!