Bonita is a 6-month-old mixed breed dog who lives up to her name “Beautiful”, a mini German shepherd mixed with life. She enters in my life as a result of this diverse behaviour in the new reality. Where before it was a no, now it can be a yes and vice versa because what we are experiencing has made me reflect, it has changed my priorities. I have always had cats and had no idea what it means to have a dog. As in other facets of my life, blessed ignorance that leads me to embark on adventures that I would have avoided, and thus lost the opportunity for great learning in my life. Bonita arrives to give my 6-year-old son a hand, to be his playmate, to teach him responsibility, perseverance, patience and respect… and now she is reminding me of the basic leadership principles, what does a great leader needs?.
In addition to being a consultant in business strategy, marketing and sales, I teach leadership and talent management in the Master’s degree in business management at the “Rovira i Virgili University”. I have as a flag to empower women and everyone who has a leader inside and wants to make him come out, to grow. In my learning to communicate with the new member of the family, I have recalled very valuable principles that we may take for granted. Lately, I was focusing on situational leadership development where the leader adapts to the environment, focusing on the situation and the team. Today I want to list essential foundations of leadership, I return to focus on the leader “back to basics”:
First: it has to be clear who is the boss.
This is the first thing Jordi corrected me, an excellent trainer who has taught us to communicate with Bonita in a very short time. One of the most powerful tools is your body language and the tone of your voice. Where before Bonita perceived my doubts, even the lack of confidence, now she knows that I am in charge, is what Jordi calls: you need to “become big”. It will make a difference how you walk around the office, how you walk into a meeting; with a solid posture, upright, shoulders back, brisk step and looking into people’s eyes. Second, watch the tone of your voice, the rhythm, the appropriate cadence for the message you want to communicate, the hand gestures, the expression on your face … breathe. With all this, you will have transmitted 70% of your message and you still have not said anything.
Going further in the organizations we would also touch on issues of business organization, clear lines of command, dynamics with the team. If you have a promotion at work you can be a boss overnight, but to be a leader and earn the respect of your team takes more time, you have to earn it and work.
Second: clear, short, unique message
Bonita is not served by my long sentences, nor by my human language, she needs short and clear messages with keywords that she recognizes by repetition. A leader has to transmit “for all audiences” adapting the speech according to his public. Not to say more you will be better understood. The principle here is that everyone needs to be very clear about the vision and mission of the company: what we are and where we want to be, what makes us strong, what we have to improve, where are the opportunities and threats. You don’t have to be the CEO to work this, even for a project with a punctual leader it is also necessary. Which are the objectives and how we are going to measure them to detect success will be the compass that guides your team, the course and destination is set by the leader at the helm.
Third: manage resources
Coming from the cat world, I left food for Bonita all day, big mistake, I was creating a wayward dog with a good intestinal disorder. Now Bonita knows that she eats twice a day, usually, at the same times, she knows when she is going to go out for a walk… she is clear about her resources. Today we live in a very changing world and it is true that resources must be adapted according to the needs of the moment, the results and revised objectives. You will have a much more productive team with a fair salary if they know what budget they can work with, what personnel resources they have based on different projects and why there are differences if that is the case. It is not easy to live with a hungry dog; it will not listen to you.
Fourth: perseverance, learning by repetition, patience, respect
From small we learn by repetition, each one has its own rhythm. What will give you the most results is perseverance, repeating the message as many times as necessary until it is integrated. Yes, we need a good dose of that precious and rare commodity, patience. With Bonita, it was easy after Jordi’s wise advice because I saw results right away. As a leader, you will see faster results in some team members. They are our source of patience, the certainty that the results will come, and it is only a matter of time, you need perseverance and respect that each one has their time. A leader is only as fast as the last of his team.
One of the things I enjoy the most with Bonita and it has been a surprise, the early morning walk. I am recovering many lost sunrises and I start the day in a different way that helps me the rest of the day. If you always repeat the same path, the dog becomes territorial and may even attack because if someone crosses its path, it experiences it as an intrusion into their home. Doing things in a different way, looking for alternative paths, different angles takes us out of the comfort zone, and this is something that we must practice like gymnastics. If we make exploration and curiosity a habit, our world will be richer and of course, we will have acquired the much-needed flexibility in this highly uncertain environment. We must promote flexibility in ourselves and our teams, continuous learning and thus enjoy being out of the comfort zone.
Sixth: constant feedback, celebration
How do we know if we are on the right track? How do we know if we are doing what is expected of us? We need the leader to be very clear on how he is going to measure the objectives, with what indicators and with what frequency. In addition, I believe a lot in asking for qualitative feedback that helps continuous improvement, avoids frustrations and surprises. With Bonita, I work a lot on positive reinforcement, and it doesn’t always have to be a doggy treat, many times a caress, a game, spending time with her, all these have the same or even greater impact. We are living times with a lot of tension; I try every day to recapitulate and recognize what I have achieved and thank those who help me along the way. We are very good at detecting and highlighting what does not work, what we do not like … we love complaining about ourselves and others. Celebrating success in its proper measure is a very powerful weapon of motivation and happiness.
Thanks to my learning with Bonita I have been able to review these leadership points that seem very simple and even basic. Those who know me, know that I like to ground the concepts and simplify them. In essence, we find the answers, the simple thing is easier to remember, start and improve it. I wish you happy learning and, for those of you who can enjoy your pets!.
If you are interested in doing leadership workshops both with your team or individually, I will be happy to listen to you and together design what you need, contact me here.
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