Leadership and…Chicken Shit

So, there I was, cleaning out my chicken coop.

Wait…let me give you the backstory on this…


I’ve raised chickens off and on since I was a teenager. One of the unsavory duties of this wonderful pastime is cleaning the poop, outta the coop. There’s a lot of poop in a coop.

My last set-up, I would shovel poo out of the coop, and then deposit it into a nearby compost pile.

Every. Single. Day.

I’d shovel chicken shit from point A to point B.

My chickens were NOT helping with the poo duties either.

They’d watch from the edges and cluck. Probably laughing in chicken talk, while watching me shovel their shit.

There had to be an easier way.

After some self-education, I started a deep litter method.

Here’s how it works…

Layer the bottom of the coop with straw about six inches deep. Then, after a few days, go into the coop with their favorite treat.

There I stood, ankle deep in litter, their shit all around me, and I sprinkled treats on top of the litter.

What I found was that the chickens would stand right next to me, scratch and peck at the treats. They loved it!

In doing so, they turned over every piece of straw looking for goodies. In the process, they turned over their own shit, which caused the litter to work as a compost pile.

Problem solved! And…no more smell!

End result?

Eight months later, I would haul out some very nice compost.

I have to tell you, the best veggies anyone’s ever tasted came from that mix in my garden. Plus, those chickens were probably the healthiest birds I ever kept.

Back to the story…


So, there I was, cleaning out my chicken coop—the compost that is.

I thought back to the days when I shoveled chicken shit from point A to point B—shovel in hand and a heap of poo dangling at the end of it.

Every. Single. Day.

At that moment, I had an epiphany of sorts…

This is what managers do.

Leadership and management are worlds apart.

A title doesn’t make you a leader any more than standing in a chicken coop makes you a chicken.

You do NOT need a title to be a leader.

I have seen plenty of men and women lead their peers, and their superiors, without any title, rank, or position affixed to their name.

Then…I thought back to some of the worst managers I’ve worked for.

Self-centered and insecure managers who rule their people with fear, tyranny, and browbeating—which is akin to flat out disrespect, bullying, and intimidation.

Their management style causes their subordinates to feel fearful about making the smallest decision, afraid to speak up, and their efforts usually do not rise above mediocre.

These managers wind up working harder, are more stressed out, and get only the bare minimum out of their employees.

AND…all they do is shovel shit from point A to point B.

All the while complaining to their boss about how the employees are stupid, can’t think for themselves, and are unproductive.

I’ve worked for a lot of shit shovelers in my day.

There have been times when I’ve asked myself, “Why the hell do I work here?”

On the other hand, I have worked for some excellent leaders, and have always been fascinated with how they operate.

They have a way of bringing out the best in you, and you don’t want to disappoint them.

What is it that creates such a desire to launch yourself over a cliff for them?

Leaders are the folks who will strap on their boots, stand in waist-deep shit with you and not only show you how to shovel, but they will gladly help and shovel shit for you.

“Hand me the shovel,” you implore.

“Naw, I got this,” your leader says with a smile.

“Come on, give me the shovel,” you protest.

“Okay, but let me get to a stopping point,” your leader replies.

They set the standard.

By example, they show us how to work, what it looks like to work, the kind of effort necessary to accomplish the task, and they define what the objectives are…all by being in the shit WITH us.

Leaders seem to have healthier, more productive, and enthusiastic employees than the managers who shuffle poo from one side of the desk to the other.

You might think I’m talking just about work—the space on earth where we go to the cubicle every day to slave away for someone else.

Sure, there too.

But leadership is something that transcends the cubicle.

What about leading ourselves?

That’s really something worth pondering.

To make positive changes, no matter where we’re at, who we’re with, or what we do, it’s necessary to learn what it means to lead ourselves.

I don’t want to shovel shit from point A to point B in my life. I want to thrive and flourish like my garden did from all that compost!


Lead yourself.

Be kinder to yourself.

Give yourself an incentive to reach your dreams, and reward yourself when you accomplish something in your life—no matter how small it may seem.

When you take the lead over your own life, you will find yourself a bit less stressed, more fulfilled, healthier, and far more productive.

Posted by Christian Martin Jr.