Those who had Dogs as a pet at home would vouch for some of the important leadership lessons they can offer. While you reflect on the points I present below, its important to understand that when you get a Dog into your family it starts to consider you as part of the pack. While it starts its association as a member of the pack, it strives hard to take the position of the leader of its pack. It does so diligently and persistently with several actions which start to endear itself to the pack members and slowly accede space to gain the commitment and trust of the pack. The same applies to you when you join an organizational team. You are part of a pack and strive hard to rise up in the organizational hierarchy. So what lessons can you learn from Dogs which will help you achieve success with your team / pack? Here are a few to ponder…
Unconditional love – The dog never makes its love conditional on its pack members. It shows the same level of love and affection day in and day out, whether you have fed it or not; given treats or not. It receives you everyday morning cheerfully and does not carry the baggage from the past in its interactions with you. Can we do that with our organizational teams? Most of us are caught up in knowing the benefits of being nice to others. We are always looking to base our interactions with others on the returns such relations can provide us. This when displayed by all pack members leads to political behavior and a toxic environment. When people experience conditional support from you, they try to avoid your company and disengage. If you can provide fellow team members with your unconditional support and affection they will reciprocate the same. This is such an important aspect of leadership as well.
Protection – Dogs are fiercely protective of their pack and can take on any danger without fear. They steadfastly protect their territory and are always paying attention to the impending dangers to their pack members. They are willing to put up a fight no matter the size of the intruders. When you find that your Dog is putting up a fight for you, it fills you with pride and immense joy. As leaders we need to provide similar protection to our team members. They must feel secure when you are around and not be threatened in your company. That’s what the pack leader or the alpha dog offers in return for the loyalty and commitment of its members.
High engagement – You will not find your Dog sit around the couch and do nothing for long hours. It will after brief intervals nudge you to come play and be part of some action. Those who have had dogs at home will find that they never allow you to laze around and are always pushing you to move and keep your engaged at all times. They draw their energy from group activities and the same is what you can offer to your teams as leaders. You must continuously keep your pack enthused by nudging them for action. You must get involved in group activities and keep your pack battle ready all the time.
Cheerful disposition – When you look at your Dog, it immediately brings a smile on your face. Its joy when it sees you is infectious. When it comes jumping onto you with joy; licking you; kissing you; will make you leave all your belonging on the floor and cuddle up with your bundle of joy. I’m not suggesting that as leaders we need to lick and kiss our team members 😊 but do they feel great joy when they encounter you everyday? Do you smile and greet them and transmit positive energy when you meet them? It can go a long way in creating a happy workplace.
Discipline – Dogs are sticklers to rituals. They have a time for everything and never get bored following the same ritual day in and day out. They also push you everyday to stick to those timelines for eg: like going for a walk everyday, grooming, feeding etc., In their company you will find that you get disciplined as well and your fitness levels also increases. Leaders can follow similar rituals with their team which will keep them fit for the work they do.
These five dimensions of a Dogs behavior is what makes them gradually take the pack leadership space. While you may feel that you own the Dog, you will know that over a period of time they have been controlling every aspect of your life without even you realizing it. You can get the commitment and love of your team if you can be the Alpha Dog of your organizational pack.