Be the Pack Leader
We finally broke down and adopted a puppy. She’s an 11-week old Cockapoo who is already sleeping through the night. I think of it as Karma for hushing my oldest son to sleep in my makeshift bed in the hallway for his first three years of life. Although I grew up with a dog, I realized I had very limited knowledge when it comes to raising a puppy and I didn’t know what I didn’t know. So, where did I turn to for some answers? Well TV of course! The one and only Dog Whisperer, Cesar Millan. This show is a must see even if you don’t have a dog. If you look beyond Cesar’s “chht” claw-hand response for unwanted behavior (which I’d imagine wouldn’t go over well with your staff), his messages and approaches run deep into leadership theory and practices. I find myself referencing the show quite a bit, not when I’m talking about my dog but rather when people ask me what I do. I explain leadership as the ability to hold two seemingly conflicting ways of being… like being directive AND inclusive or grounded AND flexible or accountable AND supportive. I then get the confused “huh?” stare and follow up with, “Have you ever seen the Dog Whisperer, Cesar Millan? You know how Cesar trains humans to be the Calm AND Assertive pack leader? Well, I help leaders remain calm and assertive at work with their staff and at home with their kids.” Then they get it. Thanks Cesar!
If you’ve never seen the show, you might think this doesn’t make any sense. How can I be both calm AND assertive at the same time? I can only be one or the other, right?? And, when I am in one state it’s at the cost of the other state. However, when you watch the show, you see how Cesar teaches the owner to hold both of these leadership concepts together. It’s a respectful yet commanding way to show the dog who is the pack leader.
As a leader in the workplace or at home, we are constantly moving between two ways of being. Barry Johnson (polaritypartnerships.com) labels these pairs as “polarities” and has been studying polarity management since 1975. He describes polarities as “independent pairs that support a common purpose and one another. They are energy systems in which we live and work.” From my perspective, thinking in polarities is a realistic view to the way we actually live. It’s messy, complex, and constantly changing. Should I be more assertive or more accommodating? Should I let things go or stick to the policy? The answers are, “yes” and “yes!” Polarities are unsolvable problems so traditional problem-solving approaches will not work. Our techniques will teach you how to zoom out and look at the bigger picture, measure how well you’re managing the polarities in your life, and apply strategies to maximize the benefits of both. Intrigued? Contact Us to be part of our pilot study on measuring effectiveness within leadership polarities.
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