What Pepper the dog can teach us about Leadership.

In December 2020, Blue Mercury Leadership brought on a new employee, four legged, diligent, hard working Pepper into our family. She is our now almost 6 month old Hungarian Vizsla.

Whilst I am no expert at dog training, I like to think I know a few things about training and developing humans…

There are many parallels that we as humans can learn from dogs, around trust, love, and connection. I am more interested in what we can learn about leadership from dog training.

Hopefully this will give you something to think about, or at least a laugh into the last 6 months of my life.

Number 1: Why the heck are we doing this?

Training Pepper means going outside everyday, working on sit, stay and come, in a whole bunch of circumstances.

We can be playing with a tennis ball and a person comes round the corner, I quickly have to change tact to force a sit, to ensure that person in the lovely white trousers or beige coat doesn’t end up with big muddy pawprint designs.

But from Pepper’s perspective, it can often seem like a quiz that she may or may not be ready for. “Why are you asking me to sit while we are playing ball?” A perfectly reasonable question.

It’s the same in business. Business leaders are often strategic thinkers who know exactly where they need to go, and how to get there. However, are we remembering to tell people why? Or are we just expecting them to understand?

Sometimes we are forced to change direction suddenly (COVID anyone?). How are you at taking people on that journey with you, are you explaining to them why? Sometimes resistance to change can be just a lack of understanding, so ensuring communication of your ‘why’ will help smooth the transition.

Number 2: Hey Boss, I don’t get it.