I never really thought much about the parallels between canine and human leadership needs, but Lesley Hunter, the author of, Who Put You in Charge?, has convinced me the parallels are compellingly strong.
In her book, Hunter explains:
- Like dogs, humans need training, leadership, respect and reward. And most importantly, a sense of belonging.
- In every pack a dog has its role. The pack leader is there to provide direction and maintain order. Harmony happens when pack leaders and followers fulfill their respective roles.
As a longtime dog lover and owner, Hunter reflects in her book about her own leadership successes in business, “Bringing together and leading a group of dogs was no different to leading a group of people — by recognizing the strengths and characteristics of each individual, and by consciously choosing to adapt my own behavior and response, I became an effective leader and got the best out of each of them.”
You can make your way through the 100-page book in a couple hours. And, I won’t in the posting reveal all of Hunter’s parallels between humans and dogs, but my favorite observations that Hunter makes are:
- Effective leaders understand and listen to their natural instincts, and use persuasion rather than dominance and authority to achieve their outcomes.
- Successful leaders know themselves well enough, and are therefore able to adapt and modify their learned habits, behaviors and responses to get the best out of each person and situation.
- Being a firm leader is not about power.
- The most effective leaders are those who are seen as being fair, approachable and adaptable.
- Being fair is more about being able to weigh all the options and coming to reasoned decisions and arguments, rather than showing excessive empathy to the views and needs of others, which itself can cause further problems in the long run.
- Healthy conflict in a non-threatening, constructive and supportive environment is essential for decision making and problem solving.