5 Leader Lessons from a Labrador
I’ve been in my new job for several months now. There are many things I love about it – more responsibility, being a part of the executive leadership team, and a little more respect around the office. All of that is great.
I was prepared for a steep learning curve at the beginning but am finding it is non-stop. I’m constantly dealing with new situations, new information, and new strategies. It’s exhausting.
Getting Worn Out
Dear Getting Worn Out:
We live in a world where the pace of change keeps accelerating and a mantra for survival is adapt or die.
I find applying what I have heard or read the best way to really learn and have it stick.
Here are five recent observations from watching our Labrador that are reminders that have reinforced learning in a fun way.
When we adopted Tally last year, she was a 9-year-old adult English Labrador and she moved from a kennel in the country into apartment living in downtown Chicago.
While there were a few adjustments in the beginning, she adapted extremely well.
She got used to the city traffic, riding an elevator, and letting us know when she wanted to go out.
I am reminded of the importance of successful onboarding. She adapted to new routines and integrated into a new environment.
Plus, she demonstrated the competency that trips up executives onboarding into new companies more than any other factor and that is fitting into a new culture. Much can be accommodated once that’s in place.
She demonstrated the importance of emotional intelligence and learning agility.
Delegating and Engagement
While Tally is sometimes a little sluggish and just plods along, she often likes to grab the leash in her mouth and lead the way.
When she has the leash, she picks up the pace, lifts up her head and is clearly very proud of herself.
It reminds me of the importance of delegating.
When I coach managers like you who have been promoted to bigger jobs, a common need is to shift gears for the new role and this usually involves being intentional about delegating.
To be effective, a leader must let go of managing the details and trust others to get things done. It boosts employee engagement and frees up time you need for other responsibilities.
Delegating is empowering and energizing for them and essential for you.
Power & Influence
The Web is full of videos of cats blocking a dog’s path or commandeering a dog’s bed — all to the dog’s consternation. Weighing in at 80 pounds, Tally clearly has the upper hand over our 12-pound declawed cat, Gertie, but Tally doesn’t believe it.
Tally needs to recognize her power, feel more confident and assert herself (to the feline bully).
Too often I hear clients voice self-limiting beliefs and their discomfort over how these beliefs hold them back.
I want these clients to know that when we let the inner voice of doubt take over, we give up choice and it keeps us small.
The opportunity is to begin with modest steps and to build confidence.
To overcome fear, we must move beyond our comfort zone.
It gets easier after that . . . . first step.
The invitation is to start now.
My number one rule for myself is showing up. Nothing much can happen until I do.
Tally is very present and especially so in the kitchen. She gets the occasional nibbles of strawberries and a cashew or two just because she’s there.
It brings to mind the bedrock advice: suit up and show up.
This is a happy dog with a wagging tail. It brings to mind the power and simplicity of a smile and hello.
Recently, a woman looked at me expressionless and (I’m embarrassed to admit) I thought to myself “What’s her problem?”
Then, with a whisper of inspiration, I ventured forth with a smile and a simple hello to her.
What did I get back?
Her face brightened and relaxed, she smiled and we started a pleasant conversation.
What we send out, we get back.
Hang in there, GWO. It’s more about the journey than the destination.