The idea of Lionheart Leadership emerged when I heard one of the most effective global leaders I know make the profound comment that, “A group of sheep led by a lion will always defeat a group of lions led by a sheep.”
This raised the question in my mind, “considering that a lion has a completely different nature from the sheep, how does it get to lead them effectively?” This led me to identify the following important components of what I call Lionheart Leadership:
Control your Appetites
Sheep is normally dinner for the lion but if the lion expects to be effective in leading the flock of sheep, it must restrain its natural inclination to devour the sheep. Similarly, the lionheart leader must cultivate and exercise restraint and self control in his use of power and in the satisfaction of his natural appetites.
History is replete with leaders who ignored this principle and became examples of the adage that says, ‘power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely’. The lionheart in contrast recognizes that his strength is for service to his flock and the pursuit of godly destiny and lives by the maxim of ‘servant leadership’.
Bridge the Communication Gap
Lions roar, sheep bleat… you can immediately see the communication problems this difference will create. The lionheart leader must develop the skills to communicate her vision, her passion and her expectations to the sheep in a manner that causes them to align their personal objectives with the corporate objectives she carries in her spirit.
It is no good continually roaring at the sheep and then blaming them for always scattering in fright. Lionhearts seek to understand their constituents and then seek to be understood. They develop flexibility and adaptability to communicate their message in diverse ways that enable each flock member to wholeheartedly subordinate their grazing instincts to the pursuit of a worthy corporate vision.
Sheep eat grass, Lions eat fresh, strong meat and bones. A lion that chooses to eat grass will eventually experience diminished strength and vitality. In much the same way, Lionhearts, must as a necessity, eat the right kinds of mental, physical and spiritual diet in order to remain at the cutting edge of their capabilities. Your personal library of books and audio/visual material is a measure of your mental and spiritual diet. A good diet should also include healthy daily portions of intimacy with your creator for spiritual revitalization.
A lion seeking to become a sheep is the precursor to frustration and diminished potential. A sheepish lion eventually becomes a parable on poor leadership. Many a leader has fallen prey to the misguided trait of ‘people pleasing’ or situational (political) expediency such that every vestige of their true nature as lions has been subdued. Lionhearts however, remain true to themselves and as such retain their strong moral fibre and become worthy examples of integrity and values-based leadership. Consequently the power of their voice remains undimmed even long after their physical departure.
Roar to the sheep once in awhile
The purpose of this roar is not to frighten the sheep into submission. It is to awaken the lion cubs lurking among the sheep. The roar of a lion galvanizes the innate instincts of another lion and triggers a roar in response.
Lionhearts understand that true leadership is demonstrated by effective succession hence the need to identify and nurture the up and coming lionhearts. Therefore he must roar so that the new lionhearts can hear the reverberations of their destiny. They can then step out of the flock to respond with a roar of their own and receive the mantle of corporate leadership.
The greatest leader in the history of humanity exemplified all of the above principles and is known as the greatest lion of all, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, Jesus the Christ.