The First Role of an Innovative Leader

Hi, I’m Josh Barker, CEO of City Innovation Labs.  This is the second video in a series we call Cultivating Innovation where we talk about the roles that an innovative leader plays in order to Create an Innovative Team.

This video I’m going to talk about the first role an innovative leader, which is that of a Shepherd.  

One of our core values at City Innovation Labs is “Lead Like a shepherd.”  So what does that even mean? I’ll summarize by saying at a high-level shepherds care for their flocks.  And as I have had the opportunity to lead, I’ve noticed 3 Levels of Care associated with innovative leaders that put on the role of shepherd.

1. Level 1: Provide, Protect, & Respect

All of your team members have basic needs that need to be met.  To provide clarity for what they’re working on, giving them the tools to succeed.  And also to protect them from outside forces: bureaucracy, other people or teams, providing a safe and healthy work environment.

Another word for all this is respect.  So Level 1: Provide, Protect, and Respect.

2. Level 2: Genuinely Know & Care

This goes beyond just merely respecting your team members, but getting to know who they are and genuinely caring for them.  

To know is to have information and to care is to put that information into action.  Work to understand them as a person and what their world looks like.  Their hopes, dreams, and passions, strengths, their likes, their dislikes, their family, their friends.

Then care enough to ask how their day was, how their family is, be active in looking for promotions or projects that fit that person’s passions.  So Level 2: Genuinely Know & Care.

3. Level 3: Radically Love & Selflessly Lead 

Your #1 job as a good leader is to love people.  At CIL, our number 1 core value is faith and people first.  We constantly talk about how we can radically love our people, vendors and customers more. We want our leaders to know the difference between managing and leading, and how to be a servant leader.  

To Be that leader that rolls up their sleeves, gets in the trenches, and leads from behind.  So Level 3: Radically Love & Selflessly Lead.

When you work towards that Level 3 (Radically love and selflessly lead), you actually will find something special start to happen… your people will feel an overwhelming sense of acceptance like they’ve never felt before.  

This allows people to feel unimpeded, to open up, be themselves, explore new ideas, and innovative freely.

This quick video just skims the surface on the topic of Leading like a shepherd.  And I’d love to hear from all of you some other ways you have led your teams like a shepherd.  Thanks and God bless.

Recommended Readings on Being a Shepherd-Leader:

  • The Way of the Shepherd – A reporter meets with the most respected CEO in America to share the seven secrets he learned long ago from his mentor.
  • While Shepherds Watch Their Flocks – Forty Daily Reflections on Biblical Leadership.
  • The Shepherd as Leader – Spiritual leadership from the popular Shepherds’ Conference held annually at Grace Community Church in Southern California.
  • Psalm 23 – This article was based upon this Biblical reference.

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