What My Puppy is Teaching Me about Leadership (Part 2)
In my last blog I introduced you to Ruby Tuesday, my almost six-month-old Bearded Collie puppy. I talked about what she is teaching me about leadership including reward and acknowledge good behavior, be consistent, and be patient. In growing up with this being I continue to be reminded on a daily basis about some of the skills important to being a leader. She is learning tricks now such as shake, sit pretty, settle, and fetch. Here a few more of the leadership skills Ruby Tuesday is reminding me of in no particular order.
- Be Fully Present. One day as I was training Ruby how to walk on the leash without pulling, I got distracted by sending a text message and she took off like a bullet. I believe she sensed my shift in attention. This sudden pull on her leash caused me to drop my phone, which fell flat. Face down. Yep, my first incident ever of the screen fully shattering. She sensed the shift in my attention.
We humans, too, notice shifts in attention when we are with each other, so be present for each other. When in a conversation, put aside the work at your desk, on your phone, and shift your thoughts from what you need to do next to what you need to do to be present. We know when you are not.
- Be Clear. Do not cause confusion in the instructions you give. I was attempting to teach The Rube to focus. She first sits (which she excels at) then needs to focus on my eyes. You do this by holding a premier treat (one they love and is rare) next to your eye so they focus. She nailed it. Over and over again. She could focus. Well, suddenly, one day, she couldn’t do it any longer. While my significant other was watching this he reminded me that the command was “Focus.” I started to use the command “Watch Me.” No wonder she couldn’t do what she was so flawless at doing previously. I confused her. This, in turn, confused me as to why she was unable to excel at something she had excelled at previously.
Be clear, very clear, of your ask.
- Do Not Overreact. Part of my job as Ruby’s owner is to keep her safe and create a safe environment. There are times when I see her do something and loudly shout “No!” At the dog training school, the instructor noticed this and told me to be sure not to overreact in a situation that won’t do her any real physical harm. I was a bit embarrassed that I had become a yelling ‘Mom’ and thereafter tried to be more proactive than reactive.
As leaders, we too, have a responsibility to create a safe environment for those around us. Once our most basic need for safety is taken care of, we are able to move onto being our best. Stay tuned for more leadership lessons from Ruby Tuesday in Part 3.