Leadership lessons from a hound dog?
That’s right. Here are three C’s to get your head wrapped around this concept.
Just think Commitment; Communication; and Character
The Pack Comes First
Thunder, my 3-year-old Basset Hound / Beagle mix, sat staring out the back door whining as if to tell us he needed to go outside.
It had started to rain. And knowing that my persistent little friend had recently come in from playing in the backyard for about 20 minutes with our other three Beagles, I went over to see what was bothering him. As I approached, he began to bark at the door. When I could finally see into the backyard, I noticed that one of our other dogs named Kaci had been left outside and was sitting in the rain patiently waiting to be let back in.
Once I opened the door and Kaci was in the house, Thunder calmed down; followed her over to the dog bed; and then they both settled in for a nap.
As I went back to what I was doing, I realized that within our pack of hounds, Thunder is definitely the leader.
He has done similar things several times before. Every time he did something like this, it reminded me of the military motto “Leave No Man Behind.” Thunder’s loyalty and commitment to the members of his pack would not allow him to relax until all the others were inside with him. He seems like he maintains a deep concept of the familiar “all present and accounted for, Sir” refrain.
A leader’s commitment and loyalty to the team is critical because they are depending on you. In Thunder’s case, it is to help bring them in from the rain.
Hey, We’re Hungry Over Here
With four dogs, meal time can be a bit crazy. This young pack of comrades has developed a routine for their meal time regimen. For some reason, Thunder is typically the last to eat. Ever since our daughters were old enough, we have given them the responsibility for making sure the dogs have food and water. Occasionally though, they forget and the bowls sit empty for a while.
Thunder has developed a method for communicating to our family that the bowls are empty and the pack is hungry. He will wedge his nose under the lip of the empty bowl and quickly flip it up so the bowl leaves the floor and slams back down with a loud crash. He then walks over and sits quietly at the edge of the family room staring at us as if to say, “I just told you we’re hungry, can you put some food in the bowls?” He never barks…just sits and stares at us until we go over and feed the pack.
As the leader, Thunder has taken responsibility for developing effective methods for communicating the needs of the pack to upper management.
If You’re Happy and You Know it Wag Your Tail
When we decided to rescue our second pair of dogs, Thunder was one of them. He was just a puppy when we brought him home and we worried that there might be a few fights to decide which dog would become the pack’s leader. But when Thunder walked into the room and saw our original two Beagles, his tail went up, began to wag, and he went right over to say “Hi.”
It was only a matter of weeks before the other three were following Thunder around wherever he went. He seems to intuitively know how to interact as a leader with the other dogs and appears to get along equally with all three.
Thunder is always the first one to the door when we let them out…tail wagging, leading the charge and barking his deep, hound-dog trumpet call of “come on, let’s go out and play.” The other three are typically following right behind.
Like Thunder, effective leaders tend to exhibit character and an enthusiasm for what they do that compels others to follow.
The ability to inspire a group to work together toward a common goal is certainly a valuable quality in a leader, whether it’s a person or a hound-dog.
As a leader, do you exhibit these three qualities? Do you put the interests of your team first? Do you communicate effectively with your team? Would your team members agree that you are a person of character? Would your family?
Ken Jones, AIA, LEED AP is a Vice President at Grimm + Parker Architects in MD
A service-focused leader, Ken helps create meaningful architecture + client success
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Edited by Mike Weppler
Image Sources: Taylor Jones