Leadership Learned From Cows

Each morning as I milk my cows I find myself wishing that more of them would walk into the barn by themselves and not have to be prodded along.  This would save me a lot of time and effort in accomplishing the task of milking all my cows.  I have noticed a few different types of cows over the years, and I think they are not all that much different than people.

  • Natural Leaders.  There are a few cows that are willing and comfortable leading the group into the barn.  Often these few cows will walk into the barn without anyone going out to get them.  When this happens often the barn fills up (six cows) without anyone having to push the cows in.  This happens because the other five cows have a leader to follow.
  • Cows that need prodding.  These cows will look at the door to the empty barn and will go in first with a little encouragement, but they will rarely go in by themselves.  Sometimes these cows stop before reaching the front stall and need some prodding to move all the way to the front.  Once we get one of these cows into the barn the other five seem to go willingly and easily.
  • Followers.  Some cows refuse to go first, they are fine following another cow, but you cannot make them go first.  When they are caught in the front of the group, they will run away to the back if they are can, or they will simply stand and refuse to go in.  If by mistake these cows end up in the front stall they are uncomfortable, they dance, kick and poop (a nervous reaction).  Often this causes problems for the entire group. We learn who these cows are and make sure they are never brought in first.  They are usually perfectly fine when they are behind other cows.  They stand still and are no trouble to milk, but they are not truly comfortable leading.

” A leader takes people where they want to go.  A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but where they ought to be.” – Rosalynn Carter

Knowing my cow’s helps me understand how to position them in the barn in order to simplify the milking for me.   As I said earlier I think this is not so much different from people.  When working with or directing people it is important to understand where each person is most comfortable.

Some people are natural leaders.  We all know people who fall into this group, they see what needs to be done and they go to work.  They may not always be the most capable or talented, but they can get others to follow them, in fact others seem to rally around them, and the task is often quickly and easily accomplished.  Unfortunately these people are often few in numbers.

Many more people will lead if prodded, but they are not likely to take the initiative on their own.  Although they are often very capable, they need encouragement and persuasion to get started, and at times they need continued encouragement throughout the whole experience.  Understanding when and how to provide that encouragement can make all the difference when working with these types of people, unfortunately, every one of them is different.

Some people will not and cannot lead.  This doesn’t mean that they are not good people or that they are not valuable to an organization.  They may very well be some of the most productive members of the organization when they have someone to follow.  Fortunately not everyone wants to be a leader or there would be no one to lead, no one to do the work.

I am convinced that most people, if not all, can learn to be leaders if they will try.  Some will naturally be better than others.  Many great leaders had to learn to be leaders, quite often out of necessity.  Sometimes people are placed in situations where they have to step forward and take charge.  When the Lord places us in these situations he knows something about us that we may not have yet learned about ourselves.

“How often in life we complete a task that was beyond the capability of the person we were when we started it.” – Robert Brault

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One Response to Leadership Learned From Cows

  1. Kiplagat Kipsiro says:

    It is wonderful to see how your farm runs. i grew up in a farm in Africa with one tractor and few cows. i always loved cows and farm but i moved to US now in US Army . i would love to see how you operate your farm. I wont mind if i can lift some hay and milk cows.
    Thank you
    Kipsiro
    P/s i live in Bowling green KY but now stationed in Germany

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