Eight Leadership Lessons From Dogs

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During the pandemic, many workers have acquired canine colleagues to keep them company in their home office. In fact, some 3.2 million households in the UK have acquired a pet since the start of the pandemic, according to the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association (PFMA), with Gen Z and Millennials being the driving force. of the trend. As a result, the country is now home to 12 million dogs.

Those of us who own dogs know how much of a positive impact they have on our physical and mental well-being. But who would have thought that the cute bundle of fur under your desk could also help you become a better leader? Well, it turns out they can…

Today is National Pet Day in the UK. To mark the occasion, I reached out via LinkedIn to find out what we can learn about leadership from our dogs. Here are eight of the most powerful lessons:

1. Set the right tone for the day

Lauren Hughes, client development manager at social media agency Trinity, takes her dachshund George (pictured) to the office once a week. She says: “One thing he does every time we approach the office is start wagging his tail as fast as he can, pull his way into the office and then walk around and greet each person. who is there.” Nor does George limit his friendly greetings to those he sees in person. He is also acutely aware of the power of social media and is actively building his brand on Instagram and TikTok, using the handle @miniaturedachshundgeorge.

2. Keep your bag behind you

“What leaders can learn from their dogs is that they are only as strong as the weakest members of their team,” says Barney Durrant, managing director of digital marketing agency Bluebell Digital. “So they have to empathize to make sure no one gets left behind.”

3. Lead with love

Career and work-life balance coach Ayesha Murray says she learned from her two-year-old black Labrador to “lead with love, be other-centered, not self-centered, take time to care for self (i.e. take a nap!) and wake up each day with a spring in your step”.

4. Stay curious

Curiosity is an undervalued leadership skill, but one that can be hugely transformative, according to Elaine Carnegie, founder and chief executive of occupational health consultancy Beingworks. She remarked that her own Cavapoochon pup is “wonderfully curious, not just about his surroundings, but about the actions, behaviors and nuances of everyone he interacts with.” Carnegie notes, “She is curious with all of her senses to better understand the world she lives in and how she can benefit from it.”

5. Keep wagging your tail

Dogs are notoriously optimistic, always convinced that there’s a long muddy walk or a fun car ride just around the corner. Zoe Saari, life coach and wellness psychologist, believes that leaders can learn from their positive attitude, as well as their level of awareness. She says, “Their mindfulness allows them to focus only on what is right in front of them in the moment, without worrying about the past or the future. It promotes positivity and well-being. Saari also points out that dogs are extremely forgiving, especially when it comes to their owners, and says the lesson here is, “Never hold grudges.”

6. Invest in training and development

Getting the most out of your team takes time, commitment and patience. It also forces you to invest in their development and allow them to experiment. “It’s about long-term strategy and consistency,” says David Pawsey, founder of content and editorial agency Deep Social. “You can’t expect your dog to have perfect recall after a training session, just like you can’t expect immediate results from a single marketing activity. It’s all about repetition. and reinforcement of the message.

7. Communicate your needs

“The easiest lesson for me is that dogs just tell you what they want and communicate so clearly with everything but the language we speak,” says Josh Anderson, founder of pet tech startup Perro. “Very often, in the world of work, we cause misunderstandings by lack of body language or signals. We sidestep topics rather than cut to the chase and, let’s face it, our dogs sometimes get in trouble, but does it really matter if we do too! »

Polly Arnold, founder of content agency Meyvn Group, says her own Miniature Schnauzer is “consistent and clear in communicating their needs – leaving you in no doubt about exactly Whatever he wants.” She adds, “He’s empathetic, a good listener, impartial, and — killer traits — eternally grateful and supportive.”

8. Praise your team

How to get the best out of your dog? Giving them lots of praise – oh, and giving them lots of treats. The same principle applies to motivating your team, according to Matthew Rock, director of content development at Think Publishing. “You can’t let encouragement or praise or advice go down,” he says. “The moment you relax or become complacent is when things can go wrong.”

Rock also points out that dogs like routine and predictability. “And, while it shouldn’t be overdone, that’s also true for people,” he explains. “Work is often necessarily chaotic, but good leaders provide a sense of stability and predictability.”

Rock points out that dogs are very sensitive to problems. “Any dog ​​owner knows they don’t like high voices or restless nerves,” he notes. “That’s when they cower. It’s also a lesson in leadership: your employees will pick up on your negative energy or anxiety. Sure, be open and genuine, but your job is also to inspire trust.

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