The Way of the Shepherd: Help Your Sheep Identify with You

This chapter of The Way of the Shepherd brings Ted and his mentor looking over his flock and Dr. Neumann shows Ted the process of ear-tagging his sheep. Ted is confused of the importance of this and, as he is now used to, there is a greater purpose for being able to identify these sheep as coming from the Neumann ranch. Neumann says, “Even though our flock is small, this ranch has a reputation for producing outstanding livestock. That tag you put on the ewe is a mark of excellence.”

He goes on to make the comparison to the people Ted will soon be leading in his new job, “Your employees at General Technologies will bear your mark, just as the sheep bears mine. They will bear a mark that will tell people what kind of shepherd-leader you really are. Make sure that your mark of leadership stands for something great.”

  1. Know the Condition of Your Flock
  2. Discover the Shape of Your Sheep
  3. Help Your Sheep Identify with You

If you are a leader of others, how well do the members of your team identify with you? Is that something that is important to you? If it’s not important while things are going well, it certainly will be when stuff “hits the fan” and your team is in panic mode and you need them to respond to you and the problem at hand.

Great leaders instill a sense of meaning and belonging in their followers by putting the personal imprint of who they are and what they stand for on their people. That imprint becomes the common ground where the people collectively meet and identify with their leader.

Questions every employee asks themselves about their leader: 

  1. Does he/she know what he/she is doing?
  2. Can I trust him/her?

We all ask these questions of our leaders, and the answer to each will more than likely determine to what extent I am willing to follow their leadership. If the answer to Question 1 is NO, I will probably continue to follow, but if Question 2 is NO, I am probably looking for a way out. Building trust as a leader is the key element to being a successful, influential leader of people.


Build trust with your followers by modeling authenticity, integrity, and compassion.

  • Trust is often hard earned and easily lost.
  • “A man can sell his integrity for a nickel, but all the money in the world won’t buy it back.”

Set high standards of performance and excellence.

  • Don’t set the bar lower because you’re afraid of not being able to reach it. Better to set a high standard of performance and excellence and fall short, than to expect less and fall short all the same. 
  • Setting high standards for people communicates belief in them, both for who they are and for who they are becoming. It’s belief in what they have accomplished in the past, and vision that even greater things are possible.

Relentlessly communicate your values and sense of mission.

  • How often do you draw upon our company’s value statements? As long as they simply remain as words on a piece of paper that we hang up in the break room and never apply them to how we lead and operate – they are only worth the sheet of paper they’re printed on. Nothing. 
  • Does your team understand its mission? Why does your department exist? What would happen if it didn’t? What does your team provide that no other team does?

Define the cause for your people and tell them where they fit in.

  • What impact does your department have on the ability for our company to feed families and their pets across the world? Remind yourself and your team often why you are doing what you are doing.
  • Then for each individual, tell them why their role on the team matters. A great checklist for communicating with your people is to answer these questions for your people:
  1. What are we doing? 
  2. Why are we doing it? 
  3. Where do I fit in?

Remember that great leadership isn’t just professional; it’s personal.

  • You don’t have to be best friends, but in order to be an effective, influential leader of people, you have to get personal. 

Great leaders leave their mark by constantly communicating their values and sense of mission. They tirelessly call their people to engage in the cause. They know people are easily distracted by the pulls of life, so they’re continually calling them back to the mission, back to their purpose for being.


Continue to build and strengthen the trust that your team has in you by modeling authenticity, integrity, and compassion.

The level of trust and loyalty you expect from others must be matched by the level of personal trustworthiness and loyalty that you give to them. Do you want to lead people of integrity? Be a person of integrity. Do you want a team that cares about each other and the task(s) at hand? Model compassion in the way that you live and lead. 

Define the cause for your team and help them see where they fit in.

Let them know that without your department and without each member’s special part, Simmons Foods could not provide the goods and services that have fed millions of families and their pets all over the world.

Instill a sense of pride for being on the _______team.

There is not one department at our company that isn’t able to discover a sense of mission for what you do in your line of work. If one department loses its sense of mission it affects the rest of the company. But imagine if your department was to gain an increased sense of mission and purpose for what you do – it would also affect the rest of the company in an incredibly positive way! Be the leader that ignites a fire of mission and purpose within your team that spreads throughout Simmons Foods.

Help your people identify with you.