When we aspire to be an effective, and perhaps even beloved leader, there are lots of ways we can grow and develop. We can attend intensive classes, participate in specialized training sessions, and immerse ourselves in books and literature to inform us of best practices. All of these methods have their place and I love each of them.
I also love to learn from situations that are staring me right in the face. Or perhaps laying at my feet. Some of the most profound lessons I have learned have come from Grace, my dog. I don’t have to go far to learn, as long as I’m open to the experience.
How we treat our animals (and how they treat us) is always indicative of other relationships we have. Observing how we interact with our four-legged friends will help us see what we might need to address in order to improve as an organizational leader. How patient are we? How open are we to listening to what the other person has to say? How much energy and time do we put towards their well-being, or are they here just to serve our needs? Do they frighten us? Do they provide comfort? Answers to these questions can help us become more aware of ourselves, more alert to what’s important to us and how we react to it. Do we like the way we are with our animals? Or would it serve us to change anything about those experiences?
As I watch and learn from Grace, I bubble over with ideas. She has this bewildering way of getting across her message in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. So I decided to have a little fun and create a series called “Dog-Inspired Leadership Tips from Grace.” Starting today, I’m kicking off a month of tips! The first one appears on the right: “Take the path that is right for you.” On the day this picture was taken, I was so excited with the path I had made. Even though I enjoy snowshoeing, I walked in (rather boring) circles specifically to make it easy for Grace to get through the deep snow. She, however, was not so impressed. Instead of following me, she turned around and walked away from me, which was the equivalent of saying, “Humph. “Not my kinda walk, Mom. Count me out, this isn’t for me.” Rather than be miserable and walk behind me, she let me know how she felt and took action accordingly. It’s an incredibly smart leadership trait: don’t go down a path that someone else wants you to take if it’s not right for you.
I’ll be posting these gems on Facebook and Twitter. They will be short, light, fun, also provocative if you spend some time thinking about them. I hope you find them valuable, and if you, please share the wisdom from Grace with others. If you’d be willing to tell how they help you, Grace would be thrilled to hear from you!