Opaque objects such as the human body do not let light pass through them and results in the creation of a shadow.
As leaders, our responsibility is to move our teams from here to there. As we do, we must be careful not to let our shadow block the vision of our followers while we are out front.
When our teams fall into shadow they are no longer effective.
Blinded by shadow
Leaders who are not aware of the shadow they cast may see clearly where they are going, but the entire team they are leading may be completely lost. As a result, individuals may feel discouraged, angry, or frustrated. Sadly, the leader typically doesn’t understand why and just asks people to keep up.
We create shadows because light cannot pass through us
The word transparency is important and discussed a lot today in business. In its simplest form, transparency simply means allowing light to pass through us to give others the opportunity to see what we see.
There is little our followers and teams can do themselves that will help. This cannot happen without specific actions on our part. As leader, it is our responsibility, so what can we do to help them?
From a shepherding perspective, we suggest two things:
1) Speak to them in ways they understand
People listen best to people they trust. If we have earned their trust we know we engage them on their terms (not ours). When done properly, their connection with us will allow them to see what is coming and where we are going without distortion.
2) Re-position them gently
At times, listening to us and hearing our perspective is not enough. When that occurs we help them move to a place that offers a different perspective so they can see for themselves. This might mean through a conversation with others that have deeper understanding, books, seminars, or other learning opportunities. We trust them to make their own judgement outside of our shadow.
What other learnings might we draw from the position of the leader shadow?
The leader is not the light; as we all cast shadow.
Seeing the leader shadow to our right or to our left; we recognize our leader is beside us.
When we see their shadow in front, we know our leader is out front.
When we see their shadow when we look behind, we know we are leading and our leader is supporting us.
When we see what only looks like our shadow; likely our leader is carrying us.