Wednesday, April 30

The Good Shepherd

I recently arrived early for a dear friend’s funeral.  Sitting alone in the chapel, I picked up the Bible in the pew rack in front of me and opened it to a random page, then began reading.  The passage, from John 10, was about how the Good Shepherd tends his flock with diligence while the Hired Hand fails to care about the sheep, putting in the minimum to get by and thus endangering the sheep.
How ironic that I had just visited an organization that had been led by a Hired Hand who surrounded herself with others who cared as little as she did!  Their “sheep”—in this case, their members, suffered neglect.  Some wandered away and did not return.  Some needed attention they didn’t receive.  In general, the flock was not thriving.  Then, the board brought in a Good Shepherd who really cared about the quality of members’ experiences, and challenged the staff she inherited to step up to be good stewards of their members—or to move on to another workplace where they could continue to be Hired Hands.
It doesn’t take a Ph.D. in organizational change to feel the difference between an organization where people take ownership and one where they don’t.  I just moved the service for my car because the former garage had a shift in leadership that made it clear they saw themselves as Hired Hands, whereas the service folks at the new place clearly care about your experience as their customer.  In reviewing Yelp and other review sites on the two, I quickly verified that I was not alone in noticing the attitude change at the first location, nor in appreciating the attention and care consistently provided by the second.
Think about what you communicate to others.  As a parent, are you more a Good Shepherd or a Hired Hand?  How about as a friend?  At work, do you invest your best self every day, or do you shift yourself into automatic pilot and drift through one day after another?  If you are a leader, what do your team members see in you?  You can’t expect them to engage fully if you are not modeling the dedication of a Good Shepherd.  Set incremental goals to re-engage if you’ve lost your commitment.  If you can’t, then look for an alternative to your current situation, because Hired Hands may hurt others, but none as much as themselves by living unengaged, unenthusiastic lives.

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