4 Things Your Dog Can Teach You About Leadership sev.1888932-2946.ws

Leadership problems cost us big in more ways than most of us realize. Whether we are struggling with authority figures in our lives, or struggling to be the authority for others, learning how to be a good leader is critical to our success.

If your company’s top management aren’t good leaders, then the employees will be more inclined to steal, commit fraud, act badly, not show up for work, or will leave for a better job somewhere else.

If the relationship you’re in is suffering in some way, then chances are, there’s a leadership problem.

Whether it’s a personal relationship with family, friends, spouse or significant other, or it’s a business relationship with clients, customers, the boss or fellow employees, in every relationship, you are either leading or following.

All Pack roles are important, and you can trade hats when it’s appropriate – as long as you understand the rules of the game and are clear about which hat you’re choosing to wear and why.

I’ve been helping people with their dogs the world over for almost 20 years, and have had dogs in my life since I was a small child. I’ve helped thousands of dogs, and I’ve invested a great deal of time, energy and effort understanding and working with dogs and their people. I’ve learned a lot from them.

Dogs are truly special souls here to help us heal, reconnect, and show us how to be better humans.

1. Why are dogs the perfect teachers and leadership coaches?

Because the safety of the Pack is based on critical rules every dog must follow in order to survive. And by Pack, I mean every relationship of 2 or more beings, whether they are disguised as animals or humans. Your family is a pack, your company is a pack, and your friends hanging out together are also a pack.

The opportunity to work with your dog is a perfect place to practice leadership. Because when we train our dogs, we train ourselves. They give us instant feedback and tell us when we’re clear and are in the right relationship, and when we’re not.

The great news is that with such a great personal teacher, we can more easily find the places in ourselves where we’re not showing up clearly as a leader and can correct it more quickly.

If you’ve got dog behavior problems, or employee problems, or relationship problems, they’re telling you that you’re not the boss of me! That’s a leadership problem and is a symptom of something wrong in your relationship. If you don’t address it properly, then your health, wellbeing and happiness, or your company or relationship, will be undermined and sabotaged.

2. What you learn from dogs can improve your life, your relationships, and your business!

Dogs are terrific at showing us where our leadership skills are lacking. Their responses are usually crystal clear even if they’re subtle. They’re either happy to follow our lead and so as we ask with a happy, willing heart… or they’re sullen, give us a lot of sass or backtalk, act badly…

If your dog doesn’t come immediately when called, if they drag you around on the leash, jump on you or invade your space without invitation, pee in the house, bark and won’t stop, chew up your stuff or act aggressively, are simply not paying attention to you, you’re not being a good leader.

Don’t blame your dog – blame yourself.

Pay attention to stress signals! We all give cues when we’re worried, nervous, unsure, upset or fearful. In dogs as well as people, it can look like tension, depression, aggressive behavior, fearful behavior, shyness, or health problems.

3. What is the first question every dog needs to know that must be answered correctly in order for the relationship to blossom?

Every dog’s first question to everyone they meet is: Are you my leader? They need to know who should be following who, and once that’s decided, they know how to work and play together.

Further, they continue to ask over and over at different times and with new situations and challenges: Are you still my leader? You will be tested, so be prepared.

They are asking: Can I trust you? Am I safe with you?

If you are weak, nervous, not confident, anxious, then you are telling them through your emotions and energy as well as through your body language that no, you are not trustworthy and are not the leader.

At which point they will step in and take over, because there has to be a good, clear, assertive, confident leader at all times or the Pack’s well-being will suffer and is in danger.

4. Why is it important for you to be the leader of your own Pack?

When we choose to become a good Leader of our own Pack, we empower ourselves to live our best life, to connect and show up for ourselves and others, we are present to our purpose and mission in life, and we are available and playing well with others.

And that changes our energetic consciousness, makes us more consciously aware, more present and more powerful. Doing that allows others to empower themselves and be more present as well.

You don’t have to be the leader of your human pack, of course, there are other important roles you can play. The key is to be mindful and responsible to play whatever role you are assigned and have chosen in the best way you can, giving 100% of yourself.

However, if you’re not the leader of your dog pack, then you can count on having unhappy and unhealthy dogs. They need you to show up as a trustworthy, confident assertive leader so they can feel secure, happy and safe.

Your dog shows you every day where your skills, intention, clarity, and communication are missing the boat. They reflect your intentions, your attitudes, your emotions and your beliefs.

If you pay attention, you can immediately correct, reconnect, re-empower yourself, and get back in the game.

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Three Leadership Lessons From The Komen VS Planned Parenthood Debacle: What Could We Learn? health news leadership

Nearly 3 years ago, I ran a 5K in my hometown of Boston on the behalf of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. I was proud to wear my pink (although I much prefer the color red over pink!) and to run with men and women who were raising money to find a cure for breast cancer. This occasion stirred up great feelings of how we as women can lead the charge for fellow women who have either survived or succumbed to breast cancer. So when the firestorm news blitz coverage hit Komen this past week, I was really surprised to learn of Komen’s decision to cease funding for breast exams provided by Planned Parenthood, another stalwart women’s health leader. Why would a leader in breast cancer research funding, THE BREAST CANCER AWARENESS CHAMPION of sorts…why would Komen…a leading women’s health organization kick another women’s health organization in the gut?

I thought to myself…what kind of Leadership is this?

Recently, I learned a lot about being a leader and what kind of leadership matters. Here are three lessons that I would like to share:

#1. Leaders Must Always Think Through Major Decisions And Weigh All Options

I am sure the Komen team thinks that their decision to cut Planned Parenthood’s funding for breast exams was not taken lightly but clearly did not calculate the “what if” on the other side of the decision. As leaders, we must always think through the consequences of our actions and evaluate all scenarios before we arrive at a final decision.

#2. When A Leader Is Going Down In Flames Other Leaders Must Not Stoke The Fire

I learned a lot about grace, dignity and perseverance from Planned Parenthood this week as they did not take this week’s events as an opportunity to kick Komen while they were down. Instead, they rallied their supporters not into supporting a political agenda but to champion women’s health.

The women who show up at a clinic needing a breast exam or mammogram- don’t really care who provides service. They don’t care about the political or Political arguments about the organization providing the service. All they want is to be healthy, cancer free and have the service free of charge because they cannot afford to pay for it themselves. When we make decisions that affect other people, we must examine the entire food chain and the effects throughout the entire process – not just our reputation or brand.

#3. Every Leader Makes Mistakes, So Just Atone, Correct Course and Keep It Moving!

I think this lesson is most important for me as a leader. Throughout my years as a leader, I have said and did things that were not in my best judgment. So when one makes a mistake as a leader, it is important to admit it. I am not so sure that Komen truly admitted that they made a mistake, but their website statement does issue an apology that reads “We want to apologize to the American public for recent decisions that cast doubt upon our commitment to our mission of saving women’s lives.”

Changing course is often hard to do, but leadership demands and expects that we will all make mistakes and thus we must walk that long road back to pick up the pieces where we made the wrong turn.

Your leadership depends on your continuous learning. Take a few lessons from the Komen misfortune and keep moving forward.

Three Leadership Lessons From The Komen VS Planned Parenthood Debacle: What Could We Learn?