I’m babysitting my younger daughter’s Australian cattle dog while she is out of the country. This pup leaves white hair all over like popcorn kernels on the theater floor of a horror movie. She’ll chase tennis balls to the point of cardiac arrest and is as emotionally wrought as a country song. We also temporarily are watching our other daughter’s dog – this one looks like a dust mop with a missing handle and is as wired up as an electric substation.
Every dog has its own idiosyncrasies, but it’s fair to say most breeds also have their more inherent characteristics.
If so, I find it an amusing but insightful exercise to ask CEOs and organizational leaders to consider how their staffs would match up if they were, well, canines. (Please, let’s have some fun here and dispense with any moral outrage about associating people with dogs, okay?)
In my experience, generally, you can find five breeds in any organization:
Wolves While a more primal version of a domesticated dog, we understand wolves as predators, sneaky attackers, working in packs. They go after the weak, they are out for themselves, you dare not trust them. This is your saboteur.
Basset Hounds Gotta love ‘em. They just lounge around, don’t get much done, respond begrudgingly to your call, but somehow you just don’t have the heart to get rid of them (or worry that you will be labeled the hard soul if you do.) Bassett Hounds are like an old pair of bedroom slippers. We just hang onto them, even if we forget why.
Beagles Talk about just great to have around! They will come when you call them. They’ll stand there with tail wagging, just anxious to please you, and they’ll do most anything you ask — but you do have to ask. Loyal, energetic, but they need a leash.
St. Bernards If you’re in a jam, or need someone you can trust, you need your St. Bernard. They will doggedly work through some of the harshest elements to be there with what you need. Durable, reliable, they carry their weight, and often much of yours.
Border Collies Adventurous, always exploring and testing the boundaries. They look out for you, but do it best by helping you think about what is out there, whether danger or opportunity. They take risks, push boundaries, and all they ask in return is to let them run free a bit.
We can ask ourselves the questions then:
- With what types do I spend more of my time and energy? Where is the best use of my time?
- Which ones have the most influence on my organization’s culture and performance?
- Did I mean to have this mix, or is it time for some changes?