The Way of the Shepherd by Kevin Leman and Bill Pentak. Zondervan. 2009. 129 pages.
This short book is written as a leadership fable, similar to those written by Patrick Lencioni, Ken Blanchard and Mark Miller. We meet Mr. Pentak, who is a cub reporter for the Texas Star newspaper. He requests an interview with Theodore “Ted” McBride, the most respected business leader in America, having led General Technologies to seventeen years of unprecedented success during his ongoing reign as CEO. Amazingly, McBride agrees to Mr. Pentak’s request for an interview. But why would he do so?
In the interview, McBride shares with the reporter the seven greatest management principles which have led to his success and the success of General Technologies. McBride proceeds to tells Mr. Pentak about Dr. Jack Neumann, his mentor and a professor who had taught one of his MBA program courses forty-five years earlier. Knowing that Ted was going to be supervising nine people in his new position at General Technologies after completing his Master’s program, and that he had no idea how to lead effectively, Dr. Neumann agreed to teach Ted the seven principles, or the Way of the Shepherd, as they met on Saturdays leading up to Ted’s graduation.
What can leaders learn from how a shepherd leads their sheep? Quite a lot actually. The seven principles that make up the Way of the Shepherd are:
1. Know the Condition of Your Flock
2. Discover the Shape of Your Sheep
3. Help Your Sheep Identify with You
4. Make Your Pasture a Safe Place
5. The Staff of Direction
6. The Rod of Correction
7. The Heart of the Shepherd
Leading like a shepherd is much like servant leadership, in that it teaches leaders how to lead so that others will want to follow them.
Dr. Neumann told Ted forty-five years ago to put into practice what he learned from him, and to pass it on to others along the way. Ted indicates that he has tried to live up to that promise every day since. We find out that he gave Mr. Pentak the interview so that he could spread the word about the Way of the Shepherd.
The Way of the Shepherd is a quick-read, and teaches principles that will align with servant leadership.