Ginger & ArnoldAre you an animal lover? If so, have you noticed the lessons your dog, cat, or other critter can teach you about life, just by they way they approach each day?

As a joke, someone recently offered me their copy of  Leadership Secrets of Attila The Hun, which is a light-hearted look at how an obscure barbarian leader might sum up his approach to managing an unruly horde.

Attila cover changedHowever, I have a better leadership model to work with – our two golden retrievers, Arnold and Ginger. Even though they passed away last year, within six weeks of each other, I still think of them all the time. I miss them now because of their sharp instincts and insights. 

 At the SLA conference in June, candidates will be asked to speak about their leadership philosophy, and key traits that make good leaders. So I boiled down some of the dog widsom that I witnessed and tried to translate them into positive leadership skills.

 Dog Wisdom  Leadership Skill
Head down, tail up Dogs are always on the lookout for new information that will inform their world and help them make the right decisions. A happy dog has their nose to the ground, seeking out new data, and their tail is usually up, indicating they are in a good mood.
Join the pack Dogs are pack animals and so are we. If you join the pack, the pack will be stronger for it. A good healthy pack has a wide variety of individuals, all pulling in the same general direction. Good leaders inspire others to share the load for the good of the entire group. Good packs have a nice balance, and the members seem to have more fun.
Wag more, bark less  A good leader should have a pleasant demeanor and welcome meeting new people. Keep wagging your tail as you sniff out a new friend and everyone benefits. A good leader doesn’t dominate the conversation with a lot of barking. In fact, a good leader often doesn’t have to do a lot of barking – if you’ve watched Caesar Milan on The Dog Whisperer, you know that a subtle nip is all that a good leader needs to keep everyone’s tail wagging.
Some bone need to be chewed thoroughly Have you ever seen a dog leave a bone when it still has meat on it? Neither have I. Dogs will relentlessly work a bone until the job is completed.


In Forest ParkWe all wish we could be the person our dog thinks we are. Your SLA leadership team is the same way – we want to do right by our members. We put high expectations on ourselves and try hard to do good things, but we need your feedback – a kind word, a pat on the head – to keep us on the right trail and make for a doggone good pack.