Learning Leadership Traits from My Granddog, Gunnar

leadership traits

As it happens, I’m writing this from my daughter’s home where we’re dog sitting Gunnar. (The best Golden Retriever ever!) In his authentic doggie style, he’s reminded me of certain leadership traits we humans could learn.

Learn to Chill - leadership traits1. Learn to Chill

Leading can be tough – and others are watching how you handle chaos. It’s been said, “We live in a world of RAPLEXITY,” where things seem to be changing more rapidly, and those changes continue to be more and more complex. So, what’s a leader to do? Take time to get away from the fray before the fray unravels you. If you don’t take care of YOU, how can you take care of business?

Idea from Bill
Bill works in a fast paced, deadline driven environment. It’s not easy for him to get away when deadlines need attention. Bill found a way to lower his tension. He purposefully placed a toy caboose on his bookshelf as a reminder of his peaceful childhood days when he and his dad played with trains together.

“When I sense the stress welling inside of me, I take a deep breath, sit back in my chair and stare at that little caboose. It puts things in perspective once again of what life is about. Work will always have stressful moments. I find by taking some me time to de-stress, it helps me remember…this too will pass.”

Be Vulnerable - leadership traits2. Be Vulnerable

People follow people, not robots. We humans all have our flaws. It’s okay for a leader to make a mistake and own up to it. It’s okay to show your personal side. And, it’s perfectly okay to ask for help. Be a human being, not just a human doing.

Story from Joan
As a newly promoted C-level executive, Joan felt compelled to always have the right answer at the right time for the right people. Me be vulnerable? Never! After all, she assumed, those in the C-suite should always have the answers!

An engagement survey was initiated after a year in her new role that indicated people were uptight around her. They felt they could never please her. That pivotal report changed Joan’s leadership traits from autocratic to being more of a servant leader. She had an incorrect perception of what a C-level position “should be.” When the next survey results came in, scores showed that she had earned greater respect from her team when she led from her relational side. The point? Never become someone you’re NOT! Leadership starts with being true to yourself.

Stay Curious - leadership traits3. Stay Curious

Great leaders are learners. They seek new ideas, always pursuing innovative ways to run the business. Yet, far too often I’ve observed some leaders getting into a rut, spending their days only putting out fires, attending meetings, and solving problems; thus, there is little time for education.

Leaders, stay curious. Place “YOU TIME” on your calendar so you can revitalize yourself by learning from awesome websites. Not only does learning expand your knowledge, it energizes your brain and makes you quick on your feet when it comes to implementing new ideas.

Idea from Doug
Doug’s company sent him to a two-week leadership retreat hosted at a nearby university. Some of the agenda topics had less to do with work and more to do with him personally. There were thoughtful, reflective exercises that stretched his thinking about leadership. Doug loved to learn, but got caught up with the tasks at hand.

Recognizing that good leaders are well read on many topics, he now spends focused time online at places like TED Talks, LinkedIn, etc., learning a variety of subjects. Added benefit? He became more adept in social settings, conversing on a wider scope of knowledge.

Take the Challenge from Gunnar and Me

Gunnar says, “If I can do these things so can you.” So Readers – I’m going to challenge myself and you to make one behavior change this month. Send me what you’ll do differently and we’ll post them. Here’s my choice: I’ll dedicate nine minutes a day to watching TED Talks.

Click here to read about the power of spending 9 minutes a day toward reaching a goal. It is bound to help you develop new and rewarding leadership traits.