Leadership is that intangible secret sauce that makes every business person better. When you improve your leadership, you will get more accomplished in less time. You’ll attract better employees who will wow your customers. When you repeatedly display great leadership, your small business will grow into a not-so-small business.
To improve leadership, many executives read books or watch movies to draw inspiration from famous people. Let me recommend a different role model: your dog.
It’s not as crazy as it sounds. Dogs share many of the same leadership traits that great leaders have, like loyalty, honesty, perseverance, ingenuity, bravery, teamwork and curiosity, to name a few.
If you categorized all of the dog-leadership qualities you can think of, you will likely end up with the following four traits: dogs (and great leaders) are faithful, inspirational, determined and observant. The first letters of these key characteristics spell the word “FIDO,” which makes it easier to remember than when to give your dog its flea & tick medicine.
The first of these dog-inspired leadership traits is faithful. It is fundamental to your ultimate success as a leader because faithfulness builds trust. And without trust, everything is difficult. Show that same level of faithfulness to your team and you’ll lay the foundation for greatness.
Here are some ways faithful leaders earn their role as leader of the pack:
• Demonstrate loyalty by putting the needs of customers and team members ahead of your own.
• Defend your team at every opportunity.
• Do what you say you’re going to do when you say you’re going to do it.
The second of the four FIDO factors is inspirational. Dogs, like great leaders, lift our spirits and inspire greatness in others by getting them to believe they can do what they thought was impossible. Inspiration moves people to do the extraordinary and changes the focus from “it’s all about me” to “it’s all about us!”
Want to be a more inspirational leader? Try these:
• Strive to exude a positive “can do” and “will do” mindset.
• Paint the picture of what success looks like and reinforce it at every opportunity.
• Communicate with clarity to get buy-in instead of just barking out orders.
The third—and perhaps most obvious—dog-leadership trait is determined. The phrase “doggedly determined” didn’t become famous because canines were slackers. Leaders know they need a team that’s fiercely unwavering in their desire to succeed to achieve lofty goals. The only way to get there is with a never-give-up mindset. Determined leaders and their teams know they control their destinies by their actions.
Here are some ways to boost your determination quotient at work:
• Keep your list of goals short and make each item a priority.
• Assemble a best-in-show team using a rigorous hiring process.
• Concentrate on the future, not the past; pivot from the negative to the positive.
The final FIDO factor is observant. For many, this is the least obvious…and perhaps most important. The most significant development in business in the last hundred years is the speed of change. Only those individuals who are dedicated to absorbing the right information—and integrating it into an actionable strategy—will succeed in today’s frenetic pace.
Here are some ways to become more observant and boost your leadership:
• Pay close attentions to body language and listen for tone to understand the true meaning of a message.
• Become a great asker of questions, and add “And then what?” and “Tell me more” to your vocabulary.
• Get out and meet customers to learn what’s really going on.
The beauty of using dogs as leadership role models lies in their visibility. If you live with a dog, you’ll be reminded of these leadership traits day in and day out. Watch TV and you’re likely to see a dog during every commercial break.
Ask a Siberian Huskey in the Iditarod and they’ll confirm it: if you aren’t the lead dog, the view never changes. Improve these dog-inspired leadership traits and you’ll get a leg up with your small business.