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Leaders with Lamb Hearts and Rhinoceros Hide

A mentor of mine tweeted this quote yesterday,
"Leadership requires the heart of a lamb and the hide of a rhinoceros - Dr. Greg Bourgond."  
Phenomenal.  Being a good leader is tough, and mastering having the heart of the lamb with the hide of a rhinoceros takes some practice.

I've been around leaders with the heart of the lamb.  They are great people to work for because they care about you, serve you and do everything they can to support and encourage you.  The downfall is that lamb heart leaders can be so loving and tender that they are afraid to make difficult decisions or share difficult feedback with others.  I used to be a lot like this.  I wanted everyone to view me as caring and considerate, so I tended to avoid or put off hard conversations with under-performing individuals.  That's not good leadership.

I've also been around leaders with the hide of a rhinoceros.  These leaders will run through any wall, take on any challenge and be intimidated by nothing.  They are inspiring and courageous and strong.  They are not deterred by criticism or doubt.  But they can also be thick-headed, harsh and brash.  Leaders with rhinoceros hide have to be careful they don't run everyone over, or go into situations without thinking about any of the consequences.

As a leader you probably lean more towards one aspect of the other.  The key is to identify where your strength is and then operate from that place, minimizing the weakness of that strength and learning to incorporate skills you don't have.  If you're a lamb heart leader than love, serve and care for people, but make sure you work on getting a tougher hide and taking on some risk.  If you're a rhinoceros hide leader then run wild and free and strong, but be careful not to ignore the truth in criticism or to run anyone over.
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