The Dog Star: A Leader’s Lesson

(The Dog Star is a symbol of power, will, and steadfastness of purpose, and exemplifies the One who has succeeded in bridging the lower and higher consciousness. – Astrological Definition)

I walked over to a neighbor’s this morning to discuss some property issues, and decided to walk Koufax the quarter mile or so. We tricked Buddy Beagle (with whom walking is akin to jumping on a pogo stick while balancing stacks of dishes) into going into the back yard, and Koufax ran to the front door as soon as he saw his leash.

On the way home, back on our property, I removed his lead and he headed over the bridge at a gallop. The driveway takes what amounts to a 90-degree turn, with bushes and trees densely bordering it, so it’s easy to lose site of the Shepherd. But he does an interesting thing: He charges ahead, stops, looks to his left and right with head and ears raised, then turns back and watches to make sure I’m following. Once convinced, he races on again.

This is more than clever, this reaches astute. And it’s a lot more astute than many leaders I’ve seen.

I’ve worked with absolute visionaries who have ultimately been let go because their vision exceeded their pragmatism. That is, they never looked left or right to see what was on the periphery (better opportunities, looming threats, someone racing ahead), nor did they look back to see if the rest of the organization was able to keep up. They didn’t have the sense of a German Shepherd.

Innovation, alacrity, agility, resourcefulness—these are all admirable traits. But any trait taken to an excess in isolation of the environment can lead to disaster. If you’re going to lead, you’d better be sure it isn’t in a tunnel. If you’re going to gallop, it can’t be like a horse with blinders, artificially focused solely on what’s ahead. You had better be looking around with your head up in awareness.

And as an organizational leader or a consultant, pausing to look back and ensure that others are willing to follow, have followed, and are following the correct path isn’t dilatory, it’s merely prudent. You have to get there “firstest with the mostest,” to quote Nathan Beford Forrest, not “firstest and all alone.”

Admonish your clients to lead boldly but to be cognizant of the movement of others. Visionaries are fine, but dreamers aren’t. Koufax is smart enough to look around him. His speed is tempered by being in the moment.

And, therefore, I trust him enough to always let him off his leash.

© Alan Weiss 2008. All rights reserved.

2 thoughts on “The Dog Star: A Leader’s Lesson

  1. My dog does that too, but I’m convinced it’s only because she is checking to make sure the man who feeds her is following. No point getting so far ahead of your supply people you have to wait days to be fed.

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