Expert Author Val Heart

Leadership problems cost us big in more ways than most of us realize. Whether we are struggling with authority figures in our lives, or struggling to be the authority for others, learning how to be a good leader is critical to our success.

If your company's top management aren't good leaders, then the employees will be more inclined to steal, commit fraud, act badly, not show up for work, or will leave for a better job somewhere else.

If the relationship you're in is suffering in some way, then chances are, there's a leadership problem.

Whether it's a personal relationship with family, friends, spouse or significant other, or it's a business relationship with clients, customers, the boss or fellow employees, in every relationship, you are either leading or following.

All Pack roles are important, and you can trade hats when it's appropriate - as long as you understand the rules of the game and are clear about which hat you're choosing to wear and why.

I've been helping people with their dogs the world over for almost 20 years, and have had dogs in my life since I was a small child. I've helped thousands of dogs, and I've invested a great deal of time, energy and effort understanding and working with dogs and their people. I've learned a lot from them.

Dogs are truly special souls here to help us heal, reconnect, and show us how to be better humans.

1. Why are dogs the perfect teachers and leadership coaches?

Because the safety of the Pack is based on critical rules every dog must follow in order to survive. And by Pack, I mean every relationship of 2 or more beings, whether they are disguised as animals or humans. Your family is a pack, your company is a pack, and your friends hanging out together are also a pack.

The opportunity to work with your dog is a perfect place to practice leadership. Because when we train our dogs, we train ourselves. They give us instant feedback and tell us when we're clear and are in the right relationship, and when we're not.

The great news is that with such a great personal teacher, we can more easily find the places in ourselves where we're not showing up clearly as a leader and can correct it more quickly.

If you've got dog behavior problems, or employee problems, or relationship problems, they're telling you that you're not the boss of me! That's a leadership problem and is a symptom of something wrong in your relationship. If you don't address it properly, then your health, wellbeing and happiness, or your company or relationship, will be undermined and sabotaged.

2. What you learn from dogs can improve your life, your relationships, and your business!

Dogs are terrific at showing us where our leadership skills are lacking. Their responses are usually crystal clear even if they're subtle. They're either happy to follow our lead and so as we ask with a happy, willing heart... or they're sullen, give us a lot of sass or backtalk, act badly...

If your dog doesn't come immediately when called, if they drag you around on the leash, jump on you or invade your space without invitation, pee in the house, bark and won't stop, chew up your stuff or act aggressively, are simply not paying attention to you, you're not being a good leader.

Don't blame your dog - blame yourself.

Pay attention to stress signals! We all give cues when we're worried, nervous, unsure, upset or fearful. In dogs as well as people, it can look like tension, depression, aggressive behavior, fearful behavior, shyness, or health problems.

3. What is the first question every dog needs to know that must be answered correctly in order for the relationship to blossom?

Every dog's first question to everyone they meet is: Are you my leader? They need to know who should be following who, and once that's decided, they know how to work and play together.

Further, they continue to ask over and over at different times and with new situations and challenges: Are you still my leader? You will be tested, so be prepared.

They are asking: Can I trust you? Am I safe with you?

If you are weak, nervous, not confident, anxious, then you are telling them through your emotions and energy as well as through your body language that no, you are not trustworthy and are not the leader.

At which point they will step in and take over, because there has to be a good, clear, assertive, confident leader at all times or the Pack's well-being will suffer and is in danger.

4. Why is it important for you to be the leader of your own Pack?

When we choose to become a good Leader of our own Pack, we empower ourselves to live our best life, to connect and show up for ourselves and others, we are present to our purpose and mission in life, and we are available and playing well with others.

And that changes our energetic consciousness, makes us more consciously aware, more present and more powerful. Doing that allows others to empower themselves and be more present as well.

You don't have to be the leader of your human pack, of course, there are other important roles you can play. The key is to be mindful and responsible to play whatever role you are assigned and have chosen in the best way you can, giving 100% of yourself.

However, if you're not the leader of your dog pack, then you can count on having unhappy and unhealthy dogs. They need you to show up as a trustworthy, confident assertive leader so they can feel secure, happy and safe.

Your dog shows you every day where your skills, intention, clarity, and communication are missing the boat. They reflect your intentions, your attitudes, your emotions and your beliefs.

If you pay attention, you can immediately correct, reconnect, re-empower yourself, and get back in the game.



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