Friday, October 15, 2004

Do leaders prefer 'dogs'?

It was interesting to read in an article about the difference between the ideal and the reality about leadership. Leadership profiles talk about: 'communicates a clear vision' , 'helps people develop their potential', 'values differences', and avoids 'playing favorites' etc.

All leaders say the want people who 'challenge the system', 'to express their opinions' and 'say what they think' but in reality many leaders encourage the opposite. It seems many leaders are not aware that they do so and would be upset if they were told that they encourage others to 'suck up ' to them! We can see this in other people it seems, but not in ourselves!

The article uses the example of a leader who owns a dog. When he /she comes home the leader is asked to think about how they treat their dog in comparison to their spouse or family. The dog is usually the first to get lots of affectionate attention. When questioned why, the reply is, 'the dog is always so happy to see me', 'the dog never talks back'.In other words the dog is a 'suck up'.

It seems if we aren't careful we can treat people at work like dogs by rewarding those who heap unthinking admiration upon us. In return people learn to 'suck up' to us.

As leaders we can stop this behavior by first admitting we have a tendency to favor those who favor us, even if we didn't mean to. We should try to value people for the ideas they have - even if we don't relate to them so well.

Seems like an idea that most teachers are aware of. We all know about 'teacher pets'.

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