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November is Leadership Month: Nelson Mandela’s Message

“A leader… is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind.”

– Nelson Mandela, President of South Africa (1994-1999)

Leadership can take on many different forms. Does the situation require an in your face leader motivating them to work harder and push further? Does the situation require the leader to be in front, making individual decisions for the group? Does the situation require facilitation by the leader so a group decision can be made?

As a leader, the Heart of the Competitor must have a pulse on the situation and of those the competitor has been called to lead.

Leadership may look like an eagle, soaring above, out in front all alone with the courage to handle the situation for those that fall under their stead. This view of leadership is probably the first one to come to the mind when asked to describe what leadership looks like.

Nelson Mandela provides another view of leadership. His view of leadership is based around a shepherd. His description of the shepherd, staying behind the flock is perfect to focus on the need to develop the strengths within the group you lead. Leadership develops those strengths and does not just allow, but encourages and facilitates the growth of those strengths. The support and encouragement the Heart of the Competitor provides to others allows them to forge ahead and accomplish great things, while leading from behind. Mandela uses this description of a shepherd because a shepherd is merely facilitating the movement and control of the flock and if he moves to fast, he will lose his flock and need to use time hunting and bringing them back into the fold.

The Heart of the Competitor evaluates each situation and places systems in place for success to be a byproduct of the process. Leadership can be like an eagle soaring above, with courage to forge ahead or it can look like a shepherd encouraging and facilitating others to achieve with support and direction from behind.

Question of the Day:

How will you lead like shepherd, facilitating and pushing the flock ahead while supporting others from behind?

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  1. […] the movement forward of the flock, supporting others in the process of becoming a leader.  (Mandela on Leadership.)  This week, we turn our focus to leading […]

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