Copyright © Dr. Stephen H. Dawson, DSL 2021

June 03, 2021

Sheep Eating Grass

"A house divided against itself, cannot stand." Candidate Abraham Lincoln

I first stood at the Lincoln Memorial the day of Live Aid. It was my first trip to Washington, D.C. I almost kept going to Philadelphia to stand outside the concert event and hear the music. I decided to stay in D.C. and watch the concert from a new technology called jumbotrons staged on the National Mall. I realized I was experiencing history and that it was best I stop and take in the events.

I shared previously about Lincoln. I wondered what would be the outcome of the Live Aid effort that day in D.C. I wondered if Abraham Lincoln realized in 1858 when he explained how a divided house could not stand he would be dead in less than seven years by assassination. I stood at his memorial in 1985 and wondered why he was not buried in D.C. I concluded it did not matter where he is buried. Death is death. The best that can be done going forward is to honor the memories, the actions, and the contributions of the dead.

You, as the leader of your organization, have selected job applicants to be candidates for each role you need to be filled in your organization. You do not need to spend any more time considering the end of the tenure for those you need to move out of your organization. You have stepped through assessing each applicant's application package, identified what seems to be a match between their application package and your role opportunity, had the screening call conducted by way of your direction, read the call outcomes, and have decided to speak with a candidate yourself. You now must decide how much freedom you will give your candidate to accomplish their work in your organization through the role they serve. You are considering death and life simultaneously as you move to care for the organization. This decision is similar to a shepherd and the flock they supervise.

A sheep has no fangs or claws. They are dependent on the shepherd to protect them by leading, guiding, and directing them. They lead by being out front of them. They guide by being beside them. They direct by being behind them. The shepherd leads them to grass to eat. The shepherd does not mandate which tuft of grass a sheep must eat. Each sheep has some degree of freedom in its relationship with its shepherd.

You are convinced bringing an antibody into your organization is a bad move. You are convinced it is bad because you do not have organization antibodies in your organization now and do not want to have your proverbial house divided by an organization antibody causing such harm. You are hoping to find out during your assessment process if you have a candidate that matches your worldview and the worldview held by your organization but not eradicate diversity from your organization. This combination is a tall order for anyone to fulfill.

Let's look at a formula I have studied for years to help me evaluate the possibility someone would want to purchase something from me as a means to guide your interview conversations. A buyer may want to purchase a product I am selling or my labor in the form of services. The formula has three parts to it. Each part must have enough value in the eye of the buyer to purchase whatever it is I am selling. You also need these three parts to have enough value in both your eyes and in the eyes of the candidate to proceed through your evaluation process.


You are selling a job by way of a compensation package. There may be fame as an outcome of the job, but no one can guarantee fame. The exchange of money in your labor budget for the total services delivered from a worker is the deal. Is this deal interesting to you as the service buyer? Is this deal interesting to the candidate as the service seller?

Now, the candidate has the same thoughts in mind but is reserved in their perspective. They see you are selling your compensation package, and they are the buyer through their services currency. How do I know this is true? Because they would be talking to a better deal for their services currency than talking to you about your compensation package. You have the best offer that has come to them. They most likely are always looking for a better deal. You most likely are always looking for a better deal. A better offer could come at any time. So, the offer from you has a boundary to it called time.

Here are some clear indications of interests on both your part and on the part of the candidate. Are they looking you in your eyes to listen to what you are telling them? Are you looking into their eyes? Are they taking notes during your discussion with them? Are you taking notes about their discussion performance? Are they able to repeat back to you any of the statements or points you make to them? Are you able to repeat back to them anything they shared during your conversation that is new to you? Are they able to provide a meaningful answer to a question you ask them about the information you have shared with them? Are you able to provide a meaningful answer to a question they ask you about the information you have shared with them? Are they involved with social networking during your conversation with them? Are you multitasking during the conversation with them?

Interest Level


A buyer may want what is sold, but they do not trust the seller. If a buyer does not trust what is being sold, then they have no interest in what is being sold. Trust is the connector of evidence and faith. Evidence is clear proof. An example of evidence is the paycheck arriving to the worker every pay cycle. Faith is the assurance the evidence will arrive. An example of faith is the time between paydays. An example of trust is the inability to prove the paycheck will be delivered to the worker on payday but convinced the paycheck will come as agreed.

You, as the interviewer, may conclude the candidate has the skills, but you do not trust they will deliver those skills to you for the compensation you deliver to them. You also may conclude they are interested in doing the work you want them to do for you, but they also have an interest to go and fix parts of your organization they believe need fixing beyond the work you want them to do.

They, as the candidate, may realize you are not a person they want to walk with now. You can protect, lead, guide, and direct them, but they do not want to eat the grass you have provided for them. They may have a worldview that does not overlap suitably with yours or the organization.

Any of these reasons and more cause the candidate to stop being a candidate. You are unable to provide them the trust necessary to do their role in a manner they prefer that is also acceptable to you. Their candidacy is dead. Move on without remorse. Do not be concerned with what may occur with them tomorrow as a future applicant to another role you need to be filled.

Trust is the connector of evidence and faith


You have what you define as a great job opening. You do not have enough money to pay someone to do the work. Stop what you are doing. You do not need to interview anyone. You need to find a budget to spend.

Asking anyone to work for less than what the work is worth demonstrates poor judgment. Your trust as a leader would be damaged by such a choice, perhaps beyond repair. It is not worth the hassles of asking anyone to take work that is not funded fairly.

Now, what is fair? That answer is between you and the service supplier. If you are convinced you have a fair compensation package, then this is all you need to know for fairness. If your candidate does not agree that what comprises your compensation package is fair to them, then you are still at a stopping point with their candidacy.

What you are seeing at this point in your evaluation process is the concept of equal pay for equal work in terms of economic equity. You do not have a pay gap, as the candidate is not being paid because they are not a member of your organization. Your best and final offer is what it is. I am not talking about job promotions, pay raises, or any other role modification. I am only discussing bringing a new person into your organization. What happens to them after they are brought into your organization is an altogether different thought construct based on the linear connection of your worldview, ethics, morality, and virtue. My hope for you is you walk out the linear connection of worldview, ethics, morality, and virtue with those you lead in a fair and clear manner. I hold this hope as I prefer you to be a credible leader.

Fair Pay


I recommend you take time this week to practice your interview methodology and cadence. Go so far as to prepare the meal menu you will eat before the interview to have all parts of yourself ready to hold the discussion.

I also recommend you do not multitask during the interview discussion. There is nothing good that comes from multitasking during a crucial discussion. All that is demonstrated by multitasking during a crucial discussion is chaos is present in your organization. If you need to communicate to the candidate you have chaos in your organization, then you can do so effectively by way of a single sentence, either verbally or in writing. Then, stop multitasking and focus on having a productive conversation.

Finally, gain a commitment from the candidate during the conversation. See how interested they are in joining your organization by putting actions to their words. Ask them to write something and email it to you. Write, in the form of researched-based effort. This action is a great way to learn quickly how interested a candidate is in joining your organization based on all they have learned to this point about you, the role, and the organization.

So, I ask you: where do you want to go? I hope your answer is to develop the plans necessary to accomplish the strategy you know you need to achieve to arrive at your desired destination. If this is the case, then let's get to work. If not, then I wish you the best of everything.

I hope we will see each other here next week. Email me if you need to talk before then.

Dr. Stephen H. Dawson, DSL
Executive Strategy Consultant

Stephen Dawson is an executive consultant of technology and business strategy, serving significant international organizations by providing leadership consulting, strategic planning, and executive communications. He has more than thirty years of service and consulting experience in delivering successful international business development and program management outcomes in the US and SE Asia. His weekly column, "Where Do You Want To Go?," appears on Thursdays.

Dr. Dawson has served in the technology, banking, and hospitality industries. He is a noted strategic planning visionary. His pursuit of music has been matched with his efforts to lead by service to followers. He holds the clear understanding a leader without followers is a person taking a long walk alone.

Stephen has lived his life in the eastern United States, visiting most of the United States and several countries. He is a graduate of the Regent University School of Business & Leadership. Contact him at