What Dogs Can Teach Us About Leadership

A long standing franchising colleague, Stephen Giles, emailed me the other day saying he was amused to receive some information about a course promoting "emotional intelligence" as the new big thing in corporate leadership. Stephen commented it sounded very familiar to what we have been teaching at the Franchise Relationships Institute for the past 23 years.

Emotional Intelligence has indeed been a fad in recent years and the email made me laugh because it reminded me of a seminar I attended some years ago by a rather serious psychologist who was defining what it meant to be emotionally intelligent. As he mentioned things like being sensitive to the emotions of others, being able to naturally show your emotions and being able to use trust and rapport to influence others, my immediate thought was, "He's describing my dog". I put up my hand and shared my thought with the room, adding that if dogs are naturally emotionally intelligent, maybe we could all learn some valuable skills from them. My joy at this brilliant insight was not shared by the seminar leader who shut me down with a terse "Let's stay on topic here, dogs are not humans". (The person next me kindly whispered that he thought I was onto something).

While my Golden Retriever, Moshe, may not have been human he was indeed highly emotionally intelligent. Like many of the dogs we love and share our lives with, Moshe was able to immediately build trust and rapport with strangers and effortlessly influence everyone in the office to do his bidding. When you think about it, the accepting, non-judgemental approach of dogs, their superb listening skills and their ability to make you feel like the most important person on earth, are highly effective emotional intelligence strategies. The fact that dogs don't try to impress or communicate in a phoney "authentic" manner, and don't tell lies also makes them great role models for anyone wanting to practice more integrity. Integrity, after all, is the most important quality we all look for in our leaders.

Animals have a special quality and an ability to bring more joy into our lives. Isn't it a shame we are mostly so busy and self-absorbed to appreciate it. I am positive our mental and emotional health would be a lot better if we spent less time tuned into our smart devices, and more time tuned into the natural intelligence of our non-human friends. Makes you think doesn't it?

By the way, if you're looking for a really good book on emotional intelligence you could do a lot worse than read "How to win friends and influence people" by Dale Carnegie, first published nearly 60 years ago and still going strong.

PS. There's another type of intelligence called "financial intelligence", which you can learn by attending the Profit Mastery Bootcamp next month. I have just heard it is the first course in Australia to be endorsed by Institute of Certified Franchise Executives. Check it out at www.franchiserelationships.com

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