The Way of the Shepherd: Discover the Shape of Your Sheep

This week in The Way of the Shepherd, Ted McBride and his mentor, Dr. Neumann, find themselves at a livestock auction on a Saturday morning. They watch for a few minutes as the animals come through the arena, and then they make their way to the holding pens where the lesson begins. Dr. Neumann asks Ted which sheep he would have selected if he was building his own herd, and as he looks around, he shrugs his shoulders and suggests that it really doesn’t matter as long as they produce enough to make a profit. Wrong answer. 

  1. Know the Condition of Your Flock 
  2. Discover the SHAPE of Your Sheep

Dr. Neumann begins to share his own experience in building teams and the need to understand each person’s own particular shape or makeup in order to know how the team would eventually fit and work together. He writes the word “SHAPE” down on a piece of paper and explains what each letter represents.

Strengths

Heart

Attitude

Personality

Experiences

Strengths 

  • Do his/her strengths line up with their responsibilities? Does he/she have the skill set needed to do the job I am asking them to do? 
  • Always try to place people where they can operate out of their strengths and not their weaknesses. 
  • Take the initiative to understand the strengths of the people on your team and those of the people who will join it in the future.

Heart 

  • What is he/she passionate about? 
  • Give them opportunities to work in areas or on projects that reflect their passions. 
  • Help those you are leading to think of their job more of a cause than a place to draw a paycheck. (Your efforts at Simmons are helping to feed families all over the world and the pets that we love!) 
While your strengths reflect you abilities, your heart reflects your passion. There is nothing more commonplace than a company full of bright, talented people who are completely unmotivated to do their work.

Attitude 

  • Does he/she exhibit a teachable attitude, or is their negative attitude putting a constant drag on others? 
  • Help them understand your expectations of how your team will function in regards to attitude, or help them find the door. 
    • “There’s one other reason to show them the door. They’re poor examples for the rest of your people. If you compromise with negative people for the sake of their abilities, your other people will learn their bad habits.” 
  • One person’s bad attitude can spread like a cancer through an entire office. 
Given a choice between talent and attitude, I’ll take attitude every time. People with good attitudes are usually team players. For another, they usually have a teachable spirit. People with negative attitudes tend to be lone rangers. You can’t teach them a thing.

Personality 

  • Put him/her in a position that reflects their personality. 
  • Do they thrive on repetition, structure, variety, or change? When you think about the nature of the responsibilities for a certain job, what type of personality would be the best fit?
  • If you are in an environment that is constantly changing, don’t hire someone who has a low tolerance for change! 

Experiences 

  • Know their story. 

“Each person you meet is a product of their life experiences. Often the key to understanding an individual and the key to knowing where to place him or her on your team is to learn something about the person’s various experiences.” 

Dr. Neumann makes an incredible statement to Ted as they are leaving the auction, “Ted, if you want to find your calling in life, if at the very least, you want to make sure you’re working in an area where you have the greatest potential for success, then take a look at your SHAPE and make sure that you’re a good fit for your job.” 

THIS WEEK’S INITIATIVE

Before you seek to discover the SHAPE of those you are leading, invest time into discovering your own personal SHAPE. I challenge you to think through the following questions and write out your thoughts.

STRENGTHS - What would you say are your top 3 strengths?
 - How have you been able to use those strengths in the role you currently have?
 - How would you like to be able to use them in the future?

HEART - What are you most passionate about in life?
 - What is it about your role and work that you are most passionate about?

ATTITUDE - What type of attitude do you bring with you to work?
 - Are you someone who has a teachable spirit?

PERSONALITY - What kind of person are you? How would you describe your personality?
 - Does that line up with the type of work that you are doing?

EXPERIENCES - Of your life experiences, which ones have the most significant impact on your life - both positive and negative?
- If you had to name one or two people that have had the greatest impact on your life, who would they be? Why?

This may not be easy to do on your own. Your chaplain team is available to you if you would like someone who would help you navigate through discovering your SHAPE. Until you have had the experience of someone truly caring about you and investing in you, you will never understand the potential it has to change someone’s life, and transform a job from one that simply gives you a paycheck every week, to being able to see your job as one that potentially gives your life even more meaning and purpose.

The next step is then to discover the SHAPE of each person on your team currently and of potential new team members before you ever invite someone to join your team. You can use the same questions above in your converations as a quideline to kickstart the converation. 

Discover the SHAPE of your people.