I always believe in listening to what the universe tells you, this may sound a bit crazy, but the more you pay attention to it and don’t try and fight it, the more you will glean from the direction you are driven in.
This also works with the universe sending me a message…. sometimes its a whisper, sometimes its a brick upside my head!
Well the latest concept that I have been sent is that of leadership. Recently, this word has been presented to me in many forms and yet I have tried to avoid it, ignore it and deny it. But the universe always knows best.
Leadership is something that takes time to adjust to and understand the responsibility that comes with it, to quote spiderman himself… ‘with great power, comes great responsibility’.
In my previous vocation, where leadership was thrust upon you, I knew and understood this so was comfortable in this role. Even as a tender teen, I was looked upon by others at times of stress, anxiety and chaos, to give them leadership and direction.
In my current profession, the concept of being a ‘leader’ is often associated with dated dominance based theories and synonymous with competitive approaches to training and behaviour. And as a result, I’ve refrained from acknowledging this aspect of my role.
The universe had other ideas. I was forced to face up to the concept of leadership and the responsibilities that come with it.
I have often refrained from defining my role as ‘a’ leader or ‘the’ leader for fear of that being misinterpreted. I felt uncomfortable with being defined as ‘leader’ because of the association to differing methodologies and needing to be the ‘pack’ leader.
When dealing with fearful timid dogs, with reactive issues or a newbie dog owner or trainer, who is starting their first step into the world of responsible dog ownership or sports, I give them leadership.
In my daily life, I give my daughter leadership, in my professional life as a coach and teacher, I give my students leadership. I advise them, I educate them, I enlighten them, I don’t try and dim their shine, I merely highlight their brilliance. Looking closer at what leadership meant to me, allowed me to redefine my perception and embrace it.
For me a leader is a person who inspires, who guides, who gives confidence but ultimately lets the individual shine. They don’t want to suppress or stifle the spirit of the being. It isn’t about oppression or domination. As a professional dog trainer, teacher and coach, I am required to be a leader.
A leader is also a person that gives boundaries where appropriate, denotes acceptable conduct and even some rules of engagement. This creates a fair and even playing field, it creates clarity. Everyone has the choice to participate or walk away. Leaders are honest, they are open and they support those that choose to bestow their trust on them. And true leaders, don’t use fear.
For those of us who have a role in the dog care/training/behaviour industry, we have responsibility to uphold this level of trust. All to often I hear of scenarios where someone has had this broken. This may be a person who has followed poor advice for a dog that is fearful. Or given advice that has compromised the relationship they wish to have with their dog. Leadership must be based on trust.
Being a leader comes with a price. Being willing to step against the trend, or put your head above the parapet is part of the role. Being a leader can be a solitary process at times, whilst others question themselves and if they wish to follow you. Having a genuine and truthful agenda for your intentions is critical. It cannot be monetary, it cannot be egotistical. Both these could be alluring, and test your intentions. When faced with a dog that needs leadership, it cannot be about ego or getting the job done. When wanting to help someone or conduct a seminar, it cannot just be about the pay cheque. It has to be about the subject, the intention and the truth.
Leadership takes understanding and acknowledgement, leaders inspire, uplift and build confidence. Whether the subject is two or four legged.
Be the leader you’d want to follow.