What kind of dog is your organization’s top dog?
In an article in Leadership Excellence , Robert Vetere, president of the American Pet Products Association, notes that about 67 per cent of CEOs own dogs, and that an early relationship with dogs can be a learning ground for teamwork and collaboration.
He delineates eight types of top dogs. You may see your boss, or yourself, in the categories:
Bred to rid the garden of moles and other predators, tenacious terriers attack with great fury, mercilessly routing their prey. “If you’re a terrier, you’re a scrappy, independent leader. You take on your competitors regardless of size. You are fiercely driven and intensely focused,” Mr. Vetere writes. But he warns you’re likely to have tunnel vision and miss important things on the periphery.
Examples: Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison and fashion magnate Diane von Furstenberg.
These dogs are superb at engaging others, putting people above all else. They are the boss everybody loves, good natured, easy to talk to, and able to read body language and emotional cues as part of their instinct for judging character. But they can also be too energetic and overwhelm their staff.
Examples: Former U.S. president Bill Clinton and venture capitalist John Doerr.
Here we have a natural CEO, with the ability to herd people in the right direction and keep track of everything. They’re smart and independent, as well. The breed, however, can be anxious and demanding, pushing people hard. But they are protective of the pack and very loyal.
Example: Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton and lifestyle expert Martha Stewart.
This one sets a course of action and sees it through. It’s unlikely to squander resources on ideas that are unlikely to work. “If you’re a Rottweiler, you value tradition and look to the past for lessons that help you to deal with a crisis. However, a good protector often ends up as the old guard once the younger generation comes along. Your challenge is to listen to the innovators and learn how to get in front of industry change,” Mr. Vetere writes.
Examples: Anne Mulcahy, former CEO of Xerox, and Max De Pree, former CEO of Herman Miller furnishings.
These leaders are exceptionally strong and hard-working, with great stamina. However, they tend to roam and follow their own instincts.
Examples: Steve Jobs, the Apple wizard, and A.G. Lafley, who led Procter & Gamble.
These are energetic leaders with a high level of taste and style. “Poodles are sensitive, thorough, and energetic, but they’re also easily bored and like to shake things up. Their intuition can be off the charts,” he notes. But they can leap ahead to the next challenge before everyone has caught up on the last, and can seem enigmatic and aloof.
Examples: New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and outgoing Avon CEO Andrea Jung.
These dogs use their sleuthing skills to transform the marketplace. The purest example of this breed, Mr. Vetere says, is Virgin Group founder Richard Branson.
The best CEOs are hybrids, he stresses, drawing on a full range of skills and behaviour. The wise ones also hire a management team that reflects all the breeds.
Special to The Globe and Mail