The past few weeks, we have had the opportunity to “dog sit”. It has been a fantastic experience, especially when it comes to implementing the leadership training I provide for others.
The first night was a bit rough. I am assuming the dog was missing its owners. He didn’t understand where they were and who these two new people were, so he did his best to assert himself as the leader of the pack.
The next morning, Ross and I decided that one of us had to assume the leadership role.
Here’s some leadership principles that the dog taught us:
- There can only be one leader.
- Consistency is key, especially if you make new rules.
- Praise and reward go a long way.
- You must be present and give people (and dogs) attention, lest they start looking for it in ways you would prefer they didn’t.
- Adaptability and flexibility are also key skills for success (survival).
- Gestures work better than yelling.
- Teaching new skills requires patience and good communication skills. Not everyone speaks your language.
- If somebody does something wrong, it’s best to discipline them straight away, in a firm and caring way.
- You must plan for and allow time for fun.
- Systems and routines help to maintain order and increase efficiency.
- Clean up your mess as you go.
- It’s ok for the leader to learn new skills as well.
- Sometimes you have to change the environment to change behaviour.
- How you structure your teams and choose your personnel can have a huge impact on the results. (The dog next door influenced our dog to dig holes so they could socialise together, and get up to all sorts of mischief, not to mention the possibility of truanting.)
- Your team know when you’re out of sorts. (I was sick with a cold over the weekend and he sat by my side the entire time, giving me great comfort and support.)
Who says an old dog can’t learn new tricks? I certainly did.
The dog we looked after was an 11 month old puppy, full of beans and energy and lots and lots of love. The more attention he got, the more pats (Touch love language) and belly scratches, the better he behaved and the more fun we had.
Makes you think, who really was the leader and who learnt the tricks?