One man and his dog can do so much if they understand each other, with that willingness to adapt, react, amend, keep calm and never give up – these are just some of the qualities needed. Surely the base model for any successful team?
It is funny that my dogs do not know the meaning of ‘going for a walk’. As a puppy I take them for a walk just to get the basics of walking to heel and to understand the most important command ‘stop’. This will take them to an age (6-8 months) when their legs can run fast enough to outpace a sheep. After that they get a lot of natural exercise running after the sheep and soon the walk to or from the sheep is all they want to do.
I have known them to run all the way back to the Landrover when we are so near to where the sheep are. I guess they lose their focus, as the sheep appear to be too far away, whilst in fact they are just over the brow of the next hill. The dogs do not feel needed, they feel it’s wasting time and they would rather be on their beds resting.
If we don’t share the bigger picture with people in our team it often means that they will put in the effort so far but just when they are nearing the goal they give up – they have “run home” too.
“Never give up, for that is just the place and time when the tide will turn” Harriet Stowe
Can I keep a close eye on the dogs and inspire them to go on and teach them not to turn back? Yes. I simply need to talk to them as we walk to keep them engaged in the task, knowing they need to keep going and that what they are doing is important, and to let them know when we are nearly there. Encouragement and reassurance are so important even when it is clear in our own minds. It’s the transferring of that thought to the team that’s so important.
Of course the easy option would be to drive them to the sheep, walk the sheep away with the dogs and walk back to the Landrover! This may not always be possible and if it was it would be working well within the team’s limits, not really pushing them to their extremes. However it does guarantee the end result.
When you have a target or goal how have you shared it with your team? Are they clear on what has to be achieved and by when? And is every team member committed?