Some might remember the song with the same title as my header.
Sadly, there is a lot of truth in this statement when it comes to leadership i.e. too many people see leadership as “ruling the world” rather than leading people to a better place and future.
The old models of autocratic leadership are thankfully being discredited more and more but the surge in the use of social media has produced a culture where everybody’s right to comment and have their opinion heard seems to have mutated into people thinking their right to be heard equates to their opinions being enforced upon others.
In other words, good old-fashioned mob rule.
We saw this in the recent Rangers boardroom conflict where a small group of activists thought they could impose boardroom changes simply by demanding them – regardless of shareholder votes and the democratic process. Interestingly, “leaders” sprang up from this rebel faction and these leaders were unsurprisingly autocratic.
In short, we live in a society where dictatorial leadership has been proven to be counter-productive but which still produces control freaks who want to rule the world.
The challenge is to find true leaders and for those leaders to model authentic leadership so well that people who try to be world dictators will be as popular and as relevant as pig farmers at a kosher market.
Leading is not managing and it is not “bossing” although someone has to be the boss when the buck has nowhere else to go.
One model of authentic leadership is the biblical concept of leaders as shepherds. David was anointed to be king while working as a shepherd boy. When he famously killed the giant Goliath he had already proved his mettle by killing a lion and a bear who came after his sheep.
David was made king by God before he came to national prominence because he looked after the sheep faithfully. He endangered his own life and welfare to protect the sheep.
Now people might ask why he would go to such lengths to look after dumb sheep.
And that’s the point – those who have to ask why David would care so much for the sheep are not shepherds!
Those who don’t care for the people they lead are not leaders! Shepherd leadership is caring for the sheep.
In the parable of the Good Shepherd, Jesus said that “the good shepherd gives his life for the sheep.”
If you have to ask why, you are disqualified.
Authentic leaders put the interests of their people first. This doesn’t mean they are mushy and weak-willed; very often putting the interests of others first simply equates to making a tough business decision that will benefit people even although it is unpopular and they cannot see the benefit.
Jesus said that mere hirelings run away when the wolf comes because the sheep are not theirs. They are not committed or invested in the sheep. “The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep.”
Real leaders stand and fight for their cause, business or organisation because they are shepherds who care about the sheep i.e. they know their roles as leaders and that their people need them.
Those who see shepherding as some kind of “weak” leadership have no idea how tough and resilient shepherds have to be – out in the wild, all alone and having to look after some of the dumbest animals alive in scorching heat and biting cold. And there are always predators and thieves who want to take the sheep.
Shepherd leadership is a much better model than Gestapo colonel leadership. It’s also much cooler.
To paraphrase an American President we could define it like this: Ask not what your people can do for you as their great leader – ask what you can do for them.