We can learn a lot about leadership from our canine best friends, according to business experts Jeff Piersall and Eric Wright. In Dogs Don’t Bark at Parked Cars: Your GPS in an Era of Hyper-Change (Morgan James Publishing, Jan. 2, 2018), they set up an apt analogy — between winning business practices and successful relationship between humans and dogs. The human-dog bond embodies the same qualities that go into the best approaches to business, they say.
The framework is certainly not a stretch: we’ve all heard the term “dog eat dog world” to describe certain markets, such as retail, and the title echoes a saying not entirely unfamiliar in the business sphere. Familiar or not, it’s an incredibly useful way to rethink the way we lead. And what makes this book work particularly well is that the authors are well seasoned pros, with years of experience helping executives and entrepreneurs get to the head of the pack.
It takes courage to succeed in today’s hard-driving business environment and plant your feet on the field rather than try to outrun those barking dogs. It also takes a different set of skills than it used to in this highly turbulent, everchanging era. Influential leaders need to cultivate quicksilver agility, creativity and adaptability to deal effectively with both the workforce and the Board, standing firm against the barking. As many a dog trainer says, it’s not just about training dogs, but also training the owners. Another dog trainer’s saying: When dogs bark, they don’t think.
To that end, the authors provide a whole roadmap for how to make the right behavior changes in oneself in order to lead better behaviors in others. They detail ten essential qualities shared by the best CEOs and business leaders, and describe at length how each works and how it applies to the workplace. For instance, having the ability and clarify to identify a prevailing vision that unifies staff: this essential approach involves far more than just managing how work is done. It involves finding out what compels the work, and the why.
An organization that works from unified vision stays on course; the pack, if you will, remains tight. Moreover, as the authors emphasize, defining that why has become even more important these days for engaging Millennials, who make up a dominant population in the workplace. The younger generation of workers want the work they do to have broader meaning that they can connect to. It’s not just about a salary or benefits, it’s about mission and message.
There are also analogies for finding the right people for the right positions, a challenge for many a leader and manager. Yes: you can’t train a powderpuff to do a guard dog’s job; and you can’t hitch a Basset Hound to a dogsled and yell Mush. Everyone leading an organization needs to get a sense of their employees’ unique talents and skills, and utilize them where they can be most effective and feel the most engaged in their work. In other words, would a toy dog that loves people be happy standing all alone in a sheep pasture, watching for coyotes? Probably not.
The end of each chapter wraps up with nuggets of wisdom and insights — cleverly titled “Dog Bones” — that deepen our understanding of each featured quality. Real-life stories offer compelling illustrations that flesh out authors’ point of view, including inspiring pointers of just how alpha business leaders vanquish those barking dogs. The authors of DogsDontBark have found a great way to provide memorable advice. If you want to be a strong leader, this is how to harness up your teams — and get everyone working as one.
Learn more at author’s web site Dogs Don’t Bark.