By Chad Hershberger

In scripture, Jesus reminds us that he is the good shepherd. He calls, the sheep recognize his voice, and they follow him. One time, when looking at that story considering leadership, someone said to me that leadership is not always about being the shepherd. Sometimes, you must be the sheep dog. There are times when you must lead from the front and have people listen, watch, and follow you. But sometimes, you need to be the sheep dog, herding your followers and giving them the nudges that they need. Often when herding, you can be more supportive in helping people get where they need to go.

As a leader, it’s important to constantly evaluate what you are doing. Evaluate programs, facilities, operations, and your employees. The best advice I have received is that you must do that by practicing “Management by Walking Around.” You can’t evaluate how things are going if you are just sitting behind a desk in an ivory tower. You must get out and listen to others so that you have an idea of the pulse of the constituency and how things are going. Taking a step back from day-to-day involvement details and assessing your organization is an important task which should be done regularly. Some questions you can ask include:

  • What is the overall condition of this organization and its components?
  • Do we have ample resources to fuel a proposed project or venture?
  • If not, how can they be gathered and garnered to propel us to the destination.
  • Are there some broken and fragile parts that need attention or replacement?
  • Are things in good balance and do you have the right mix of talents?

Leaders are accountable to the future. Not only should we have faith in the future, but we also need to plan. Visioning and succession planning are important. We can all be replaced! How will you lead so that when you leave the organization is at a better place than when you started, and you have laid the groundwork for a smooth transition? In addition, you also can set an example for future leaders as you shape how things are running today. You can be the role model that inspires them to carry the torch.

An important part of leadership for me is also continuing education. I feel that my commitment to continually updating my knowledge and skills has prevented ministry burnout for me. Working on improving through educating oneself reaps big benefits!

As you think about evaluation, consider these notes I had written years ago about something called “Rock, Paper, Scissors” Management. A former colleague of mine and I used to make decisions on who would tackle a task by playing that childhood game. I thought about it once and decided that there are some lessons you can learn from the game. First:

  • ROCK- Keep fast to your principles. Stand firm! You can’t please everyone and if you do, you let everyone down. Sometimes you must do it a certain way and be uncompromising. Sometimes a leader knows what is best even if those being led don’t. Stick to your mission, vision, and values as you plan and evaluate.
  • SCISSORS- Delegate! Leaders can’t do it all- need to have competent people under you. “Cut off” dead weight by looking at a bigger picture that should be neat and tidy and free of clutter. Stuff that drags you down needs to be cleaned up so either delegate it or be prepared to let go if something is not working.
  • PAPER- Documentation is important in leadership as is evaluation; so use paper and do both!

Maybe evaluating how you lead looking at rock, scissors, and paper will help you make some important changes and plan a better future!