What’s Leadership REALLY? Sometimes I wonder – Also: things I’ve learned from my dogs

In Musings by Christopher Michael FoleyLeave a Comment

 

It may be a comment on the kinds of people I’m following on Twitter that I cannot view my stream for more than a few minutes without seeing a few dozen tweets concerning the subject of Leadership. Some people want me to read their Highly Motivating Leadership Quotes™, others want to offer Leadership Coaching™ and yet others wish to impart upon me 21 habits that prove I’m not yet a leader, but I could be if I only changed a whole lot of things about myself that I’m rather content with.

Okay, I’m coming off as a cynic, and really, I’m doing so intentionally because I feel the point has been made. We exist in a culture that currently offers coaching courses for everything. If there’s something to do, there’s a $199 Mentorship Program available for it, I can almost guaranty it. Hell, I almost went down that route myself before almost completely losing myself in the process.

While I feel that everyone can benefit significantly from finding their mentor or having a role model, even if that role model is a fictitious character, I think that we’re going a little bit overboard with our compulsion around leadership. In this case, I look to my dogs for guidance. And yes, I’m serious.

I have two dogs. Since my wife and I have chosen not to raise kids, our dogs are all the children we’re ever going to have, and I think my dogs are just terrific.

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One of the dogs, Luca, is a yappy little Maltese. Adorable. And he’s your typical alpha male dog. A true leader. On our daily dog walks, I’m able to observe a few things about my little leader dog.

First, it’s very important to him that he’s out in front.. That leadership position is his, dammit; he guards his position jealously and becomes uncontrollably insecure if our other dog manages to somehow find herself in the lead. When Luca is leading – everything is wonderful! He prances along our normal hiking path with a surety of purpose and a confidence that’s truly inspiring, though I’ve noticed that from this position, he doesn’t take any detours. He stays on the straight and narrow, keeps to the plan, steady on. He knows where he’s going, and he’s eager to get to it, and he wants you to know that you’re holding him back.

Our other dog, Ghani doesn’t go in for any of that stuff. She could care less who’s out in front. She pulls up the rear. She takes her sweet time. She veers off the path to sniff over there where something interesting has clearly happened. She chases birds, she barks at cats, and she stops and chews on her butt wherever and whenever she feels like it. And frankly, she doesn’t seem to care how I, or Luca the leader feels about it.

Ghani dances to her own beat, and she follows her own agenda. In short, she won’t be led, and our little leader has a lot of trouble with that!

I don’t know. It seems to me that Ghani has a much better existence than Luca does. I mean, they’re both spoiled rotten by their people, but in the end if I were going to glean any wisdom from nature as it plays out in front of me, I’d emulate Ghani the wanderer.

For much of my life I was very much like Luca. Now I’m learning to be more like Ghani, and it flies in the face of much of what I learned growing up, what I learned in college, and what I’ve seen mirrored in my society.

If Ghani were a person, she’d be called a slacker, complacent, shifty.

I know of very few people who are Leaders. And by “leaders” I mean people from whom I would care to learn. People who I might follow on one hike or another. People to whom I pay attention when they talk.

And most of the “leader” types that I see out there blowing their own horn, especially the ones prominently placed on Social Media with a story to sell… Well, I’ll be damned if most of them aren’t just yappy little doggies.

 

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