I love the Dog Whisperer. Yes, my son mocks me when I watch it and my boxer rolls his eyes occasionally when I “tsst” him one time too many, but I believe in Cesar Millan and the work that he does. With a few fundamental skills and a lot of passion, he leads dogs better than many of us lead people today. If you haven’t noticed lately, employees aren’t a real happy bunch.
I mean, has anybody else noticed that there seems to be more people in their cubicles and offices growling at each other? Or that departments are grabbing for work as if the project on the table is the last Milkbone in the box?
A good friend of mine says about the human race, “We are all just scared little animals down here doing the best we can.” I agree, and I think we need to learn something from the Dog Whisperer right now so that we can lead more effectively those who are feeling threatened and cornered.
Cesar makes a variety of excellent leadership points in his books, and the following come from Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan. In his introduction, he makes these three points that I think are applicable to us today. Basically, dogs’ needs are very basic. They need:
1. Exercise. Dogs that aren’t exercised enough are tense, moody, and aggressive. They lunge at people for no reason and are easily excitable. This describes the way I feel on days that I don’t get any exercise. Since those days of no exercise add up to about three years, I’m pretty darn edgy right now. You know why I think more people are bullying each other? Because we sit for too long, we eat the wrong foods, and we have sugar highs without an outlet. So, we bark and growl and bite.
2. Discipline. If a dog’s owner doesn’t take control of the dog, the dog will take control of the owner. I think that’s the reason corporations are out of control right now. Instead of being in control, leaders are like ants scurrying in a million different directions, never committing long enough to one change to complete it. There is no real method to anybody’s madness, and the only ones making money are large consulting firms that are project managers but claim to be change management experts. We need discipline and structure as much as the dogs do. Cesar always asserts that dog owners have to be calm and assertive. Well, HELLO, I think people need that as well.
3. Affection. I’m not saying you should stroke the head of a colleague or toss a treat to someone who gave a good presentation. What I am saying is that the more tense our economic environment the more affectionless we have become. We are ready to pounce on employees that make the first mistake, but when was the last time you gave someone a sincere “thank you” for helping you at work? When’s the last time you told your own leader that you appreciate his or her effort? We are starved for affection right now, and it shows. Research has proven that infants die from a lack of affection and touch. Well, just because we’re years older doesn’t mean leaders can’t kill the soul of workers with an abusive, cold culture.
Cesar says that in every situation the behavior of the dog comes from the energy projected by those that lead them. If the owner is nervous, so is the dog. If the owner is angry, so is the dog. If the owner is calm, well . . . I think you get my point.
So, ask yourself:
Do I provide calm, assertive leadership that builds a happier team – or am I creating a nervous team of frightened, angry employees?
If your team’s energy is unproductive and defensive, then start at the basics:
And if that doesn’t work you can always point at your employees and say “tssst”. 🙂