What my dog taught me about leadership!



I wrote a short article this month on what I had learned from being a dog owner. It was for a book called ’50 Shades of Leadership’ to be published by Lesley Hunter.  Hope you can guess which one is Barney :).

Here is my article:

A leadership tip inspired by my dog Barney is the importance of increasing results by applying emotional levers to help people to get the most important things done, whether they feel like it or not.

For example, when it came to having a dog, my wife Ruth took six years to persuade me to do it even though I always knew I one day wanted one. She finally achieved her goal by a visit to a labradoodle breeder. ‘We don’t have to buy one, Chris, but it would be fun just to take a look?’. As the breeder took me into a pen and a beautiful cream pup befriended me – it was love at first sight. I rolled over just like the puppy and rang the breeder the following day.
Just as Ruth cleverly applied an emotional lever to lead me towards buying a dog, Barney also acts as a lever to help me get up and exercise. Knowing Barney is waiting for me expectantly to deliver on my walking commitment means I am going to feel guilty all day if I don’t do it. He puts extra emotional fuel on my fire which is enough to get me out of bed early and go for a walk each day, whatever the weather. In return, I get the gift of starting the day with more ideas, more energy and in a more playful mood after time with my friend.

As a leader, I know that we all need levers to help us emotionally engage and give us the push we need towards results. Clear targets and action plans. Experiences that engage enthusiasm and understanding for a project.  Review meetings and update presentations. Regular feedback and support to overcome blocks to progress. Rewards and acknowledgement from taking action.

As a business owner and mentor, besides holding others accountable for their results, I also personally invest in someone with the strict brief to support and challenge my plans and monthly actions. This friendly pressure works and the results in performance speak for themselves. These experiences have even led to a book ‘The Power To Get Things Done (Whether You Feel Like It Or Not)’ which will be published by Penguin Random House New York in December 2015.

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