Take a moment and list your life heroes. Whom do you most admire or have been your mentors? What figures have most influenced your life? What bosses or professors or teachers taught you the most? The qualities in each of these people will probably be similar, and they are the qualities of true leaders:
- They are concise, not wordy or chatty.
- They are principled, holding themselves and others to a clear standard while maintaining a kind and fair demeanor.
- They are focused on their goals, consistent and unflappable – not scattered, flighty nor prone to emotional displays of anger or frustration, however slight.
- They believe in their own ability.
This is a good list. What is most interesting about it, however, is that these same leadership qualities play a role in all social animal groups as they sort out their leaders and followers. The “leaders” in groups of animals also exhibit these four qualities. Whether you’re talking people, cows, horses … or dogs! Isn’t that fascinating? The same focus, follow-through and self-assurance that I observed in the queen of our herd, Piggy the Cow, I saw in my mother and father. I’ve seen it in the dogs through the years that have quietly but effectively taken control in our family pack. I saw these qualities in Mrs. A, my high school English teacher, who taught me more about how to focus, meet deadlines, think deeply and work hard than any other person in my life. If we follow a faith, we will also see these personal attributes in the spiritual leaders that we worship or follow.
Ponder this. Then develop these four skills in yourself and watch your own power and influence begin to grow. You will have more success with your dog, and with others…without ever raising your voice.