The Manure Leadership Principle

Cows to Barn


I want to teach you something about leadership that I learned as a kid working on our small ranch we called The B Bar B stables.


Its called the Manure Leadership Principle.


Our little horse ranch was located just south of Wichita, Kansas.  My job in the family operation was to help water and feed before school and then to clean stalls after school.  If you know anything about horses then you are familiar with manure and all the fun that goes with it for the ranch hands  (Actually, I am surprised how many leaders I meet that are familiar with manure because of their common agrarian roots).

After morning chores in the barn, I would catch the yellow school bus to be taken to the Oatville Elementary School about 20 miles due west.   Not only did I smell like manure but so did everyone else including the bus driver.  But to us, it was normal and just went with the territory of being farmers and ranchers.

Our family income was supplemented through the fees the city folks paid us to board and take care of their horses.  In other words, we were paid because we were not afraid to deal with manure.  For us, dealing with manure meant income.

Herein lies the leadership principle.  Leaders have to be willing to deal with the stuff that others are not willing to handle.  Most everyone likes the idea of leadership but when it comes time to put your boots on and deal with the deep stuff (which means you may get a little on you), many prefer to play it safe.

Believe it or not, even the bible recognizes the necessity of dealing with manure.

Check this out:  Without oxen a stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest. (Proverbs 14:4)

If you really want to lead your followers well then you cannot shy away from the less pleasant responsibilities of your leadership.  For some, it is taking risks.  For others, it is confronting their less effective team players.  Every client I work with has an area or two in their leadership that they always try to avoid.  My job is to help them identify those areas and then hold them accountable to get their boots.

Remember, manure means opportunity.


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