Some super interesting questions emerged after I wrote my last blog on “What is Leadership.”
Let’s start with this one: Does the leader take control or does the follower give control? I see this as a chicken or egg situation, so let’s take a look at it.
When a “being” is insecure or unsure, whether a child or a puppy or a dog, they need direction – you need to take control whether they appear to want you to or not. They need to be told what to do because given a choice, there’s a good chance they’ll make a bad decision, and some bad decisions come with long-term ramifications. To head that off at the pass you take control. In that situation, you are telling the other what to do. You are BEHAVING like a leader. But are you a leader?
There’s no way to know. You can behave like a leader, but whether or not you are a leader will be determined over time, because to be a leader, others have to choose to follow.
The point of behaving like a leader is to get to the point where your dog recognizes that you are a good decision-maker who keeps them safe. From there they will begin to turn to you for assistance or direction when they need help.
But to be called a “leader”? That is a status which is GIVEN by the follower. It cannot be taken; it is earned. Leadership status comes as a result of numerous experiences where the follower realizes that the leader knows what they’re doing. They make good choices and keep everyone safe!
Behaving like a leader is different. You start there so that others can see you know what you’re doing. A good portion of that is how you behave, as described in the last blog.
So to simplify things, think about it like this:
Behave like a leader. Be predictable and effective. Make things better for the other. And if you’re unsure? Then fake it, just like you would with a child in an emergency. Learn to make decisions and implement them with conviction. It’s okay if you make mistakes; strive to learn from them!
As your competence is recognized, others will begin to follow you – gratefully. That is the point at which you may well become a leader.
Of course, I’ve said nothing about the temperament or interests of the other, which is strongly related to what will actually happen in a real life situation. That’s a blog for another day.