Leadership IS like training a puppy. Seriously.
The ingredients are exactly the same.
- Love (servant leadership)
- Selection (pick the best you can afford)
- Vision (well-trained people & pets)
- Mission (great service)
- Consistency (at every step)
- Training (master the fundamentals)
- Support (care & “feeding”)
- Rewards (what gets rewarded gets repeated)
- Purpose (teamwork)
Earlier today, our ‘puppy’, Cooper, was not cooperating. He would not let me get close to him – he knew I was disappointed. It took me a few minutes to get into a position where I could make myself clear.
At just the right moment, I grabbed the thick neck fur and skin of this 85-pound Lab pup and forced his muzzle into the grass. Like a wrestler, I quickly mounted on top of Cooper and with my body weight, pinned him to the ground.
My face was now in his face – 3 inches apart. And in no uncertain terms, I used a tone that was crystal clear – I’m Akela (leader), you listen to me. Period.
Moments later, upon releasing Cooper from that alpha dog grip, Cooper came and laid at my feet. Our son (10) witnessed the whole thing and I asked a very specific question.
“Do you see the difference in Cooper’s behavior now that he’s clear on who’s the alpha?”
I then got down on my knees and loved Cooper as sweetly and gently as I could. From ‘death grip” to the loving embrace in 2 minutes.
When you are crystal clear as a leader, people get it. It takes time (this wasn’t the 1st ‘death grip’) and patience. And sometimes, you need to get in someones face.
Once to be clear (on your expectations).
And once to be clear again (on your love for their role in the team).
Leadership is like training a puppy. Most of us are not very good at training pets. And most of us are not good at leadership either.
What can we do? Read. Observe. Try. Fail. Learn. Try agin. Remember your higher purpose as leader is to lead, not manage.
Leading is about being in front, showing the way.
And it’s also about teaching. At least where I come from.