I heard a story this week from a person I truly admire. It was a story about his dog’s broken leg. If you own, or have owned, a pet you know how painful it is to watch an animal suffer. Hearing the story, I could not help but see the leadership implications in the outcome.
Okay, I can hear the skeptics, “how can you draw a leadership lesson from a dog’s broken leg? Be patient and read on.
My friend did all the good and right things for his dog. He rushed the pet to the Veterinarian’s office to have the break set and handle the pain for the dog. The leg, however never healed properly. The dog walked and dragged its back leg a bit, although clearly not in any pain.
Over time, the dog had a litter of puppies. As the puppies began to grow, my friend noted that the puppies all walked dragging a leg, the same leg as the mother. The puppies were taken to the Veterinarian and given a check to see if somehow, the accident that befell the mother affected the puppies.
The Vet gave the pups a clean bill of health. What they had surmised was that the walk the puppies had was learned from the mother. They were emulating the mother, the clear leader of their little pack.
The leadership lesson is clear. If you are in charge, the leader of an organization, department, or team, the group will follow your example. This is an undeniable truth of leadership. The leader is the exemplar. The group led will take on the traits of its leader. The question is simple, if everyone in your group, or organization, acted like you, is it acceptable? Are you leading with a “broken leg?” If you are, you have some work cut out for yourself.
Leadership starts with you.