Thursday, October 26, 2017

Leadership Lesson from Your Dog. Be Doggedly Determined

Guest post by Krissi Barr:

They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. That, of course, is #FakeNews. I know because my 12 year-old dog Yoda just learned how to pull a coffee cake off the kitchen counter and make the entire thing disappear in under 10 minutes. 

The real question is whether a dog can teach new tricks to people. If by “people” we mean “business leaders” then the answer is a resounding “woof yes!”

Dogs are natural leadership geniuses. This stems from their innate knowledge of four critical concepts—The Fido Factors—that all great leaders share: they are faithful, inspirational, determined and observant.

Of these, determination is clearly one of the most critical to business success. And to finagling a pan of breakfast pastry off the kitchen counter.

Good leaders persevere until they get what they want. Great leaders never quit until their entire team crosses the finish line. In first place.

Life litters our path between the parking lot and our office desk with obstacles. Our favorite employee quits, a key customer switches to a competitor or raw material costs skyrocket due to a conflict 6000 miles away.

Stuff happens. And when it does it can knock us down. But the most resilient among us bounce back and keep going. Most importantly they lift up their entire team and plow ahead.

We are often measured by the success we achieve in life. But what matters most—what really sticks with others—is how we respond to adversity. Because those who crank up their determination when others throw in their chips are almost always the ones who win in the long run.

Like a big dog with long legs who really wants some coffee cake that’s just out of reach on the counter, leaders never give up. Ever. If something is worth going for it’s worth going all the way for.

When times get tough, real leaders redouble their effort. And they find a way to motivate those around them to do the same.

Like an extra gear on a sports car, leaders kick it up. It isn’t a matter of physical strength. It’s all about mental toughness. Like a dog backed into a corner, it’s fight or flight. And leaders unleash the full measure of their fight in order to secure victory for the home team.

Edison invented over a thousand non-working lightbulbs before he finally got it right. Most people would have given up after five or 50 failures, and certainly after 500. But that never say never attitude is what changed his life—and the world—forever.

You will face adversity. It could be a difficult customer who says they will never switch from their current provider. Maybe that’s true. Or maybe they haven’t experienced the supersized onslaught of your determination to show them how your solution is better.

Yoda said “Do or do not. There is no try.” That’s Yoda from Star Wars, not Yoda the dog who likes coffee cake. Either way it is true. Redouble your determination and do. Then watch your leadership quotient zoom.

Krissi Barr is CEO of Barr Corporate Success, consultants specializing in strategic planning, executive coaching, and behavioral assessments, and the co-author of The Fido Factor: How to Get a Leg Up at Work.

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