LOVING: A Shepherd should smell like his sheep

What is love? The little boy thought for a second or two and then blurted out: “Oh, Oh I know. It’s when two people get together and start smelling each other.”

The little boy may be on to something. At least according to Pope Francis and a four-star Admiral in the United States Navy. They both echo each other’s thought that ” a shepherd should smell like his sheep.”

Retired Admiral William H. McRaven’s smell to be well insight –that you have to stay up close and personal with your staff in particular and employees in general –is one his 18 ideas on effective leadership in his book The Wisdom of the Bullfrog. Admiral McRaven explains:

“If you lose touch with the men and women who work for you, if you can’t relate to them because you spend too much time in the office and not enough time on the factory floor, if you don’t “smell” like the people you are sworn to protect and lead, then you will be poor leader who makes bad decisions.”

Retired Admiral McRaven, then the commander of all special operations forces, earned his Bullfrog monicker as the longest serving frogman and Navy seal still on duty. Yet, in teaching all of us another lesson on leadership as always a work in progress no matter how high you climb, Retired Admiral McRaven noted:

“The day you no longer believe you have something to prove, the day you no longer believe you must give it your all, the day you think you are entitled to special treatment, the day you think all your hard day’s are behind you, is the day you are no longer the right leader for the job.”

After all, the most effective leader knows the nose knows what’s really happening.

For more ideas on relating and engaging with your staff, pick up a copy of LOVING Like a Leader, a Leadership Mints Series Book featuring 77 Leadership Mints — bite-sized ideas to freshen your feeling for leading available on Amazon.com.

LOVING Like a Leader, With Empathy — the second book in the Leadership Mints Series –develops your emotional intelligence to better listen and relate to others with compassion, connection and conviction. Readers savor 77 Leadership Mints, bite-sized ideas that like a candy mint are quickly accessed and immediately refreshing your feeling for leading.

Get Your Copy of LOVING Like a Leader


Consumed like a breath mint — quick and on-the-go — a Leadership Mint is a bite-sized idea that energizes leadership behaviors and personalizes leadership principles so they are more easily remembered, more readily acted upon and more fully applied.

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