Five Lessons In Leadership From Ringo
Yesterday, we lost the self appointed CEO of the company, Ringo. Ringo was my Louisiana born, California raised mutt of a dog who was the real manager behind the business. I used to always joke that I worked to support his lifestyle!
Dogs are interesting animals. They can quickly bury themselves into your heart before you even know what hit it. They can also lead your life without you even realizing it.
Ringo was a combination of leader, ferocious security guard at times, manager of the house, and your biggest cheerleader. While he looked to be just a canine on the outside, Ringo was a student of life and a teacher. When I reflect on our relationship, I see many lessons in leadership that I learned from him over the past 13 years.
5 Lessons in Leadership From Ringo
Lesson #1 - Find Your Human
This was Ringo's first lesson in life. Ringo was rescued from a former colleague's mother- in-law. She brought him into the office one day and Ringo immediately locked in on me. He casually waddled up (he was less than a week old at the time) and playfully nudged me. He cuddled up and quickly let me know that he would be a great resource of support for me in life. How does this translate into leadership? When in management, it's important that we all find our Ringo. They are that person within your team that you can bounce ideas off of, rely on for constructive and honest feedback, and know that they have your back. Everyone needs to find their own Ringo within their Team.
Lesson #2 - Training Of Expectations Are Important
Ringo quickly learned that life was much easier when the human was trained and vice versa. Without even knowing that I was being trained, I quickly found myself knowing just where to scratch him on his neck and belly, what time he liked to eat and go to bed, and where I no longer sat on my couch as that was his spot - haha! On the flip side, Ringo learned the importance of training and expectations too. Life wasn't always very rosy between him and I. There was a lot of FRUSTRATION in the beginning of our relationship. He constantly chewed...including over $400.00 worth of my shoes. But once we understood the expectations of each other, our life became much easier together. When working with a team, it's imperative that you set the expectations for your team and that each team member understands the expectations. On the flip side, you as the leader, need to understand the expectations that the team members have for your position. This eliminates confusion and resentment on both sides.
Lesson #3 - Good Communications Leads To Good Negotiations
Ringo was a communicator and negotiator....just ask any of my neighbors! He loved to talk! I could have full on conversations with him, and he loved to especially communicate with you if he felt you had been ignoring him for too long or that it was time for bed or dinner. Ringo had a lot of boarder collie in him and he would literally herd you to bed at night when he was ready. This used to frustrate me to no end. There is nothing quite like sitting down on your couch for the first time that day to watch a little Grey's Anatomy and an 80Lb dog starts herding you down the hallway to bed. With a little communication and.... negotiation, Ringo and I were able to reach an agreement. He would curl up on the couch next to me and I would pet him till it was my bed time. Win -Win for both sides! The lesson learned here lays in the importance of communication during the negotiation. The basis of any negotiation is in the communication skills of the negotiator. If you are not able to communicate effectively with the other party, then you will not be able to find the happy medium. It's key to remember that you can make it a win-win for both parties in most situations. Take the time to communicate in a constructive way and rearrange the points till both parties are comfortable. Communication and negotiation do not always need to be tense and non-constructive. If Ringo and I could find a happy medium on bed time, you can find a happy medium in your negotiations.
Lesson #4 - Keep A Schedule
Ringo was a very scheduled dog. He woke up every day at the same time, ate at the same time and went for a walk at the same time. If he got off schedule, he reminded you what time it was. While you don't need to be as rigid in your scheduling as Ringo, a schedule will help to keep you and your Team on track to accomplish your daily To Do List, which helps you to stay consistent and intentional in achieving your goals.
Lesson #5 - Keep Your Curiosity
Ringo was a student of life. He was curious about everything. He would see something new and he would sniff around it and examine it for minutes at a time. He met no stranger in the park or when he was out for a walk. His curiosity was stemmed from his passion of life. Don't lose your passion or curiosity. No matter where you fall on the organizational chart, always take the time to learn. Don't fall into the stagnation of your job or life. Keep your curiosity...you never know where it will take you.
As I wrap up, Ringo LOVED to have a good time and LOVED life. Whether it was walking in the park, rolling in the leaves, swimming or playing with his favorite football....he lived every minute. Over time, his influence over others (me) and those he was around shined through. He went to Doggy Day Care once a week and his report card (yes, they got report cards at the end of each day) would reflect his influence over the other dogs. He was typically the one to lead the way into the pool or running through the fields. No matter what position you are in, you have the ability to be a person of influence to those around you. If Ringo can....you can too!
Take some time today to reflect on his lessons and see how you can implement in your life?
Before we sign off for today, ask yourself the following -
Do you live your life with curiosity?
Do you live your life to the expectations that you have set for yourself?
Who is your Ringo on your Team?
If you do not take anything away from this lesson, that is ok. But I do hope you take some time today to enjoy life and be a bit curious! If you have a furry friend, give them an extra long hug today!