Who’s the leader of your pack, you or the dog?

DogAs a leader do you constantly feel like you’re in a fight for “top dog” status? Do you feel undervalued, unappreciated and disrespected by your team? Are you having to constantly deal with bad behaviour from those within your pack?

If you answered yes to any of these, there is a good chance that your pack is running the show.

Cesar Millan is a self-taught dog behaviourist who is focussed on rehabilitating aggressive dogs. He believes that because dogs are pack animals they need a strong assertive leader. His approach was simple:

To improve dog behaviour you need to teach dog owners to consistently establish their role as calm-assertive pack leaders.

The interesting thing about all the clients Cesar works with, is that they would consistently blame the dog. The fact is that dogs generally behave poorly because owners have not done the right thing. In many cases the owners have actually created this behaviour to start with. Of course breeding may be a factor, but a well-trained owner can make a dog do almost anything they want. Conversely, a dog with no pack leader will manipulate you into submission before you can say “sit”. It’s all about status and human beings are just as motivated by pack status.

If we use this as metaphor about team dynamics, can you see any correlation to your workplace?

When you see employees behaving badly who is normally to blame? Statements like “They should know what to do” and “I have spoken to them about this situation 100 times” are all too common. In most cases organisations and managers always blame the staff for bad behaviour.

In these cases, staff problems are almost always management problems. That means that, not only is it up to management to solve them, but in most cases, management caused them to begin with.

So how have you gotten to a point where your team is running the show?

The moment you let your guard down, let something slide or contradict your own views or statements, your integrity is lost. If you take time to ask your staff what they want to see from you, you will undoubtedly hear “consistency”. Staff want consistency so that they clearly understand what is expected of them in any situation. A consistent manager is a respected manager and one that the team will look to for guidance, advice and leadership.

How can you become more consistent?

  1.  AristotleSet clear expectations – Make sure that your team understands there are certain ground rules that must always be followed. Make sure that as their manager you always follow these ground rules to the letter.
  2. Call people on their behaviours – if at any point someone does not meet the agreed expectations you need to call them on it immediately. Every single time. Be firm but fair and do it in a respectful manner. Explain to them the behaviour they demonstrated and advise them of the behaviour that is expected of them.
  3. Empower your team – Give staff the power to respectfully call each other on their behaviours. That includes your own behaviour.
  4. Review your progress – At the end of every day ask yourself, “Was I a consistent leader today?” If the answer is “no” that is OK. Just make sure that you recognize how you let your circumstances influence your behaviour and learn from the experience. The key is to improve a little every day.

This is not going to be a quick fix. You are talking about changing behaviours that may have been firmly embedded into your team’s culture. If you keep at it you will get you one step closer to taking back control of your team and becoming the manager you aspire to be.

The message for managers at every level is simple: take responsibility for problems and focus on solving them. Always keep this in the back of your mind:

The behaviour you walk past, is the behaviour you accept….

Want to know more about how you can become the best manager you aspire to be? Contact Scott today