Jim Collins on Sheepdogs

I once asked Jim: What do you think will be the characteristics of the new generation of leaders?

I think humility is a good start. I think we got to a point where people thought that if you wanted to be a leader, you had to be arrogant. No. First, leadership is about hope, leadership is about change, and leadership is about the future. And if you start with those three premises, I want leaders who are willing to listen because the future is not clear. People can tell you about the past because there’s certainty about the past. With the future, there’s not much certainty, so you have to listen, and bring in multiple perspectives.

Let me use a metaphor. I look at good leaders like sheepdogs. Good sheepdogs have to follow three rules. Number one, you can bark a lot, but you don’t bite. Number two, you have to be behind; you cannot be ahead of the sheep. Number three, you must know where to go, and you mustn’t lose the sheep.

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