Doggone it if CEOs don't have a lot in common with dogs

Fido cover
Dogs and good CEOs share a startling number of traits. (The Fido Factor)

Sun Tzu, Machiavelli, Steve Jobs and now Fido. CEOs can learn lessons in leadership from them all.

That is the premise of a new book that points out dogs are natural leaders, with ingrained knowledge of how to be the leader of the pack, just like successful CEOs.

“Dogs have leadership genius,” said Krissi Barr, who wrote the book, “The Fido Factor: How to Get a Leg Up at Work,” with her husband, Dan. Dan is a longtime business executive and Krissi is a leadership coach.

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While the book is about business in general, it identifies several traits good CEOs should have. They include:

Faithful leaders are loyal, trustworthy, and caring.

  • Be attentive. People, like canines, crave attention. A few positive words go a long way toward establishing an environment of mutual trust, building bonds, and fostering loyalty. Spend regular one-on-one time with your closest team members. Get into the habit of stopping and talking with co-workers.
  • Balance compliance with flexibility. Rules and structures can mitigate business and reputational risks while building trust. But they must exist for a reason. Annually review all the rules to determine if they still make sense. If a rule is outdated, get rid of it. If you need to add some system and structures, do that too.

Inspirational leaders are motivational, encouraging, and enthusiastic.

  • Place a priority on the positive. Reframe others’ negative “won’t work” comments into future-focused “Why not?” and “Can do” statements. View adversity as temporary. A winning outlook boosts productivity, improves morale and grows profits. Plus, it just feels good for everyone.
  • Cultivate patience. Impatient CEOs can come across as arrogant. To improve patience, resist the urge to provide quick solutions. Slow down; identify the root cause of the problem and the path to success. If you don’t show others your thought process, they won’t learn how to solve problems for themselves.

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Determined leaders are persistent, disciplined, and accountable.

  • Mark your territory. When tasked with a project, take ownership, then follow-up and follow-through. When it’s a team effort, make sure every member knows what needs to get done and does his or her part. If something goes wrong, consider taking responsibility.
  • Avoid getting backed into a corner. If a colleague asks you to do something you can’t do, stand your ground, stay professional, and help the other person see the situation from your perspective. To buy time and let emotions simmer down, have a go-to response such as “Thank you for your input. You’ve given me something to think about.”

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Observant leaders are perceptive, aware, and curious:

  • Identify your blind spots. Self-awareness helps you manage your emotions and understand how those feelings impact everyone around you. When you ask for help in knowing what everyone else sees about you, you build open relationships and credibility, which will increase your leadership effectiveness.
  • Adjust your leash length. With self-disciplined, self-confident, motivated, and experienced employees, dare to delegate with lots of freedom. With those less experienced and more anxious, too much slack can result in feeling abandoned and overwhelmed. Assess each individual and adjust your “leash” approach.