Saturday, January 23, 2010

Gentle Leadership

If you ever watch the TV show Dog Whisperer, you should know I take it with a grain of salt, but I find it pretty fascinating sometimes. I was impressed in this episode when I saw Cesar Millan coaching a woman who owned a feisty little chihuahua, to assert herself by letting "her gentle side come out".

At the end of the segment, the living proof was when the dog would yield her toy to the lady, in submission. There was another woman living in the household, possibly the lady's roommate or girlfriend, who in my opinion was the dominant personality, but the Dog Whisperer changed the game by encouraging the more timid person to assert herself simply by being determined, but without losing her gentle personality. It seems as if the dog wanted that all along, and became instantly compliant.

What I can take from that, if I may extrapolate to the world of humans, is that leadership and assertion doesn't mean that you have to "act bossy" if that's not your inclination. I've often seen in organizations when people rise to manager positions and their personality changes from laid back and gentle to authoritarian and overbearing, thinking this is "what bosses do". I believe that you shouldn't give up your personality and uniqueness if you find yourself in a leadership position, although realistically, some negative traits may have to be minimized, which are not really part of a personality (retreating, giving up, appearing indecisive). It may be simply asserting that "my behavior, in all its uniqueness, is the one in charge here". I believe that if you stick to your personality, your leadership may last longer and be less stressful.

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