Maybe or maybe not!
We have always had a dog.
Mostly small dogs which I refer to as port-a-pets because we have literally been able to pick them up and take them anywhere and everywhere.
Three years ago I got a big dog — a Golden Retriever, Australian Sheppard blend.
At approx. 60 lbs she is not a port-a-pet.
She takes up time and space.
She requires walks and structure — very unlike the port-a-pet that we admittedly allowed to run amuck in our home and life.
She is Sadie.
Now highly trained and a service dog due to some physiological health issues, she is more a part of my life than many humans.
And her impact on my life has been greater than the impact that many humans have had so I thought I would share…
Here are the Top 10 Leadership Tips that I have learned from my dog Sadie:
1. Trust and Loyalty:
Sadie’s loyalty is truly unwavering with me — but I think the feeling is mutual and it has grown from the moment we met.
A good leader builds trust and loyalty by being reliable, consistent and supportive. Trust and loyalty and the foundation for any relationship and importantly those of leaders.
2. Clear Communication:
Sadie communicates VERY effectively without using words. She relies on body language (nudging her nose into my leg, licking my hand), gestures (grabbing her ball and wagging her tail while staring at me), and tone (this funny little noise that suggest it is time to go outside, or the bark that says there is a stranger in our midst).
As a leader, clear and concise communication, both verbal and non-verbal, is key. Communicate expectations, goals, and intentions clearly to your team.
Sadie is pretty adaptable to new/different situations and environments (though she certainly loves the creature comforts of home — which for her is our cottage where she can be outside for hours exploring or lounging and never leave the property.
A good leader should also be adaptable, ready to change strategies or approaches when needed, and open to new ideas or ways of doing things while having a strong respect for all that has been created to get to that point.
4. Empathy and Listening:
Sadie knows. She has a strong sense of empathy. She knows when I need comfort, when
we are in a hurry or when she needs to be on her very best behaviour.
As a leader, being empathetic and listening to your team’s concerns, understanding their
perspectives, and being supportive are crucial for building a strong team. In the “proverbial” lyrics of Kenny Rogers “Gambler” song you need to
You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em
Know when to fold’em
Know when to walk away
Know when to run
5. Positive Reinforcement:
Sadie responds best to positive reinforcement — don’t we all?!
Similarly, as a leader, acknowledging and appreciating your team’s efforts and successes
can motivate and inspire them to perform better. I learned this the hard way! I was an exception leader — seeing only what needed to be fixed and not even commenting on the amazingness. I quickly learned to comment on the amazingness because the fixes were just that fixes. I needed to focus on the brilliance.
6. Live in the Moment:
Sadie lives in the present moment. She doesn’t dwell on the past or worry about the future. She bounces around happy and nothing seems to phase her. I love this!
A good leader focuses on the present, dealing with current challenges effectively and making the most of the opportunities at hand.
And I think a good leader has to have a positive, authentic demeanour. To be happy 24/7 is a bit much but to me be positive is a requirement.
7. Persistence and Resilience:
Sadie is persistant almost relentless in achieving her goals, such as fetching a ball or learning a trick. I don’t even think failure is in her vocabulary/mindset. She is relentless and when at a point where she doesn’t know how to conquer the issue at hands she barks until I help her. My example is a ball that sank in her lake — she simply could not retrieve it. So, she barked at it until I came outside, rake in hand and dragged it out!
As a leader, persistence and resilience are essential. Learning from failures, adapting, and staying determined towards goals is crucial.
8. Team Collaboration:
Sadie gets the notion of a “pack” and also knows her role within it. I’m a Prof so she routinely gets dragged to my classes. She knows when to join me in a group meeting or when sit quietly at the front of the room away from everyone. She just knows.
As a leader, fostering a collaborative environment and understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each team member can lead to a stronger, more cohesive team.
9. Routine and Consistency:
Sadie thrives on routine and consistency. Morning walks are her thing. I listen to a meditation and throw a ball ahead for her to catch and we walk through our country lane or a trail in the city. It starts our day off on the right foot — literally! We also have little breaks in the day to refresh and regroup — these moments are critical for both of us to regain perspective, refresh and hydrate.
A good leader sets a clear direction and maintains consistency in their actions, decisions, and values.
10. Enjoy the Journey:
I call her Miss Happy Go Lucky because Sadie truly finds joy in the simplest of things. A walk, a ball, a treat, a stuffed toy, a cuddle or belly scratch,…simple, simple pleasures.
A good leader appreciates the journey, celebrates small wins, and encourages the team to enjoy the process. A good leader takes note of it all and communicates it — this is critical for the inspiration and motivation of everyone!
As I said, I have learned a ton from Sadie. She is laying at my feet as I type this. After posting we will head out for a walk and then run some errands. Her tail wagging all the while, reminding me — all is well.
A good leader faces the day with a positive mindset, grace and buoyancy fosters an inspiring and productive environment reminding everyone that all is well.
Off now for our walk…