Leadership is as old as time, yet it is still something we do not fully understand the science of. Perhaps this is because it is challenging to fully define, as it is alive and constantly evolving.

By Simone Naicker

The scientific methodology of deriving from first principles is useful in helping us describe the world we live in. Begin with the most fundamental of truths to model what appears complex. Let us begin by observing a simple animal – the sheep dog.

The role of a sheep dog is to guard, herd and raise sheep, providing them direction and leadership. Is there something that us seemingly sophisticated mining professionals can learn from what seems to be a trivial example of leadership?

Leading like a sheep dog

A study at Swansea University, conducted by Dr Andrew King, discovered that there are two key rules that the sheep dog applies to lead his sheep. The first rule involves collecting the sheep when they are dispersed and the second is to drive them in a particular direction when aggregated. I personally found this fascinating and my curious mind could not resist extrapolating this principle to leadership.

This article was first published in Inside Mining’s Diversity in Mining issue.

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