What My Puppy is Teaching Me about Leadership (Part 1)
I want to introduce you to Ruby Tuesday (aka RT, the Rube, Ruby T.), my almost six month old Bearded Collie puppy. I have been Ruby Tuesday’s human companion for almost three months now. I am so lucky to have this beautiful and loving puppy in my care for this brief time and hopefully for a very long time to come.
In growing up with this being I am being reminded on a daily basis about some of the skills important to being a leader. She is reminding me and teaching me about some key leadership principles while I am teaching her to be house trained, not to jump up or knock down children smaller than she, and all of those basic commands of come, sit, stay, fetch, shake, as well as leash training and leaving things alone that I know are not good for her.
As the renowned YouTube dog trainer, Stonnie Dennis says, “I train my kids like I train my dogs.” To some this may sound offensive, but he means raise your kids with lots of acknowledgment, rewards and love.
Sounds like a good way of interfacing with any one.
Here are a few of the leadership skills Ruby Tuesday (named after the Rolling Stone song not the restaurant) is reminding me of in no particular order.
- Reward and acknowledge good behavior. I recently challenged one of my clients to complete an overwhelming assignment she had been procrastinating on for several months. We broke the assignment down into several smaller elements. Each time she completed one element, she let me know and I simply acknowledged her and praised her for completing each task. This acknowledgement was the motivation she needed to finally complete the task and let go of the anxiety she felt every time she thought of beginning the task. Reward and acknowledge others.
- Be Consistent. I am finding out when training Ruby, I must be consistent. This is in words and in actions. Otherwise, she is very confused as to what to do and what is expected of her. I once worked for a company where my immediate leader had extreme mood swings. One day he was on the manic extreme loving everything everybody did and the next day he displayed nothing but anger at everything everybody did. This inconsistency caused his entire organization to never know what to expect as everything was based on his inconsistent moods. Be consistent.
- Be Patient. Patience is definitely needed in the area of training a puppy and the magic happens when patience is combined with consistency and acknowledgement. As leaders, focused and patient listening to people communicates respect and has been found to increase productivity when used with deliberate instructions.