Leaders have cats, Managers have dogs

I have been reading up on leadership recently and found some really good resources online. not the least the very powerful video from John Maxwell

The 5 Levels of Leadership.

After watching the full 27:25min I started thinking about the different levels of Leadership and how they relate to peoples personality, and their pets. As it turns out, leading people is something you have to love doing, you have to learn daily to improve yourself in order to become a successful leader.

Sure there are those who lead whole departments with an iron fist, by laying down the law and controlling the group and taking care of those who disturb the status-quo through descent. Those are not leaders, those people are managers, who are careful to avoid any kind of unknown to maintain or grow their own power. They think of themselves as the leader of the pack.

Desperately required change is squashed through decrees coming from the top. If you have ever encountered a group which develops every tool and every last bit of the product in-house and is rejecting common practices in the industry, you are most likely looking at a group which is managed and not lead or inspired.

If you know of such a department I suggest you go and talk to the head of it. I wager that you’ll find that this person loves dogs. If you talk to them you will hear them talking with great joy about the qualities of dogs.

They will tell you how dogs are loyal regardless of what you do to them. How dogs are protecting family from thugs and other dangers. They lay down next to their owner and are always around, always happy, always present and willing to follow you anywhere.

What is more interesting in these people is how they generally snarl at cats as being deceptive, and only come to you if they want to get fed. In fact these people can go on for hours on how they dislike cats. It is really entertaining to pay attention to this next time you talk with your boss.

Now on the other hand you have those which either have cats or cats and dogs. If you run into a department lead who tells you about his cats I would suggest you look at the way he is leading his department.

Problem Solver

Think outside the box

These people value individual contributors and are open to new ideas and technologies. Problem solving is done not by top-to-bottom decree but by analysis and group consensus. The individual is valued and enabled to bring his or her ideas to the table regardless of seniority.

They will invest the time to grow their people and help them be successful not because they are loyal, they do this because they love doing it and they know deep down inside that this is the only way that will help them to grow their people, their departments and their company.

As the leader for a group you expect loyalty, trust, and acknowledgement. All the qualities of dogs I hear you say. However what some dog people don’t understand is that cats will expose the exact same qualities, if you nurture the behavior.

As a leader you will have to first invest into the people to foster these qualities. You cannot expect this simply because someone made you the manager of the group. You have to earn it, just like a leader does. You cannot bark at your team and expect loyalty. You will have to work for your team in order for the team to work for you.

Cats and Dogs working together

Cats will ignore you and walk away if you mistreat them, just like people will do. Cats will come to you and adore you only if you respect them for what they are and not for what you believe they ought to be, just like people will.

How many people in your team would like to be treated like a dog, and how many of them, do you think , would like to be respected like a cat?

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