Chivalry Goes To The Dogs

Scott Farrell comments:

Managers and business executives often use the image of a predator to describe their own style of leadership philosophy. Managers who want to inspire aggression and vigor often call their team members “sharks” and their organizations “wolf packs.” We think of predators as powerful and ruthless in their pursuit of prey, which maybe why managers eagerly employ predatory images when trying to condone a “succeed at any cost” approach to business. A predator would never let anything as arbitrary as honesty, loyalty or trust get in the way of success — or so we’ve been led to believe. Perhaps this is why the predator is often seen as the antithesis of the “knight in shining armor” in a competitive environment.

Author Cesar Millan, however, knows a thing or two about leadership among predators. Cesar is best known as the dog-handler to the stars from his show Dog Whisperer on the National Geographic Channel. He uses an innovative, instinctive approach to dog training based on pack dynamics rather than pain or intimidation. Cesar knows exactly how to establish himself, literally, as the top dog in a pack of predators — and he’s become a sought-after consultant not just among celebrities who have problem pooches, but also among successful corporations looking for ways to establish strong leadership principles among their executives.

Cesar’s latest book, Be The Pack Leader, examines how badly humans have misapplied pack behavior in an attempt to create effective leadership techniques through deceit, intimidation and deception. But Cesar says that predators don’t behave this way, and successful leaders can’t afford to either. As Cesar points out, real predators don’t lie, equivocate or misrepresent themselves — to become a leader among predators you must be absolutely honest and trustworthy. This excerpt from his book reveals just how important the principle of faithfulness is among leaders of all kinds, from dog walkers to executives and politicians. Ceasar reminds us that a real predator has a lot in common with a knight in shining armor.

A knight can be the leader of the pack

cesarmillanIf you ever wonder where the American people came up with the idea that the dog should be out in front of the walk, take a look at a film, video or photograph of any President of the United States getting off Air Force One. Who’s the first one out of the plane? Who’s the first one into the White House? Ronald Regan, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush — all of them trail behind their dogs on the White House lawn. In the animal world, position means a lot. And in all of these images, the dogs are going first. In my lifetime, I haven’t seen a powerful breed dog in the White House yet. I’ve seen Labradors. I’ve seen lots of terriers, a lot of the softer breeds. But a Rottweiler? A pit bull? Not since JFK have you seen a German shepherd in the White House nor Rhodesian ridgebacks, or Belgian Malinois, or mastiffs. If you had a powerful breed in the White House no one would ever get to meet with the President. Why? Because if Presidents can’t control their terriers or happy-go-lucky labs, how could they control a powerful breed? You’d have 10 secret service agents trying to handle one dog, because it would be a dog without a pack leader.

I got a lot of applause during one seminar when I suggested that everybody write letters to Congress and suggest that before anyone gets sworn in as President, he or she has to learn how to walk a powerful dog. Maybe even a pack of dogs! It would be a test they’d all have to pass. All world leaders of all countries should be able to do it. If that actually happened, then all of our human pack leaders would have to practice calm-assertive energy, because that’s the only energy that dogs naturally follow. I believe we’d have a lot more balanced people running the world if they based their leadership on calm-assertive energy.

You see, animals don’t follow unstable pack leaders; only humans promote, follow and praise instability. Only humans have leaders who can lie and get away with it. Around the world, most of the pack leaders we follow today are not stable. Their followers may not know it, but Mother Nature is far too honest to be fooled by angry, frustrated, jealous, competitive, stubborn or other negative energy — even if it is masked by a politician’s smile. That’s because all animals can evaluate and discern what balanced energy feels like. A dog cannot evaluate how intelligent a human is, or how rich, or how powerful or how popular. A dog doesn’t care if a leader has a Ph.D. from Harvard, or is a five-star general. But that dog can definitely tell a stable human from an unstable one. We humans continue to follow the unstable energy of our leaders — which is why we don’t live in a peaceful, balanced world.

Being a pack leader is not about showing “who’s boss.” Natural pack leaders do not control their followers by fear. They sometimes have to challenge or display their authority, but most of the time they are calm, benevolent leaders. Remember, dogs are predators. They are social animals, but they are also social carnivores — and deep in their DNA is the wolf in them that wants to hunt and kill prey.

President Theodore Roosevelt once said:

People ask the difference between a leader and a boss … The leader works in the open, and the boss in covert. The leader leads and the boss drives.

In order for your dog to follow, you cannot be just a boss. You must be a guide, an inspiration, a true leader, from the inside out.

© 2008 Cesar Millan

About The Author: Cesar Millan is the founder of the Dog Psychology Center in Los Angeles, and the star of Dog Whisperer on the National Geographic Channel. He is author of several books on canine handling and psychology, including his latest, Be The Pack Leader.