I love dogs. A lot. It’s probably safe to say most people do too. I mean really… what’s not to love? They are simply wonderful creatures. So I am sure you can imagine my skepticism, despite my fondness, when we received a new leadership book titled The Fido Factor. Legendary career coach Marshall Goldsmith called it “A must-read for anyone who is or wants to be a leader.” I’m a big fan of Marshall’s (and dogs), so I gave it a try.
I have unleashed my skepticism! The Fido Factor is fun, relatable, and packed with motivation and techniques for any leader to learn from.
The book’s core message is that dogs can motivate us to become more effective leaders through the Fido Factors of Faithful, Inspirational, Determined, and Observant. These core qualities are needed by every leader to succeed and earn respect.
Faithful leaders are loyal, trustworthy, and caring. People, like dogs, require attention. Regular, positive words can build bonds and trust – things every leader needs to cultivate. They also need to balance compliance with flexibility. Rules and structure can mitigate business risks, but they need to make sense and adapt to your people and the times. Faithful leaders succeed because they are attentive and earn the trust of their team and customers by doing the right things and living up to their word. They are respected for sharing the spotlight and investing the time to grow relationships with others.
Inspirational leaders are motivational, encouraging, and enthusiastic. They move people to do meaningful and extraordinary things through patience and reframing “won’t work” thinking into future-focused “why not?” statements. They succeed because they paint the picture of what success looks like and then help others get there. Dogs are naturally inspirational through enthusiasm and optimism – they just can’t help it. The inspirational leader radiates positive energy and has a spirit of adventure others want to be around.
Determined leaders are persistent, disciplined, and accountable. They combine perseverance with a dose of fearlessness to keep moving toward goals. They mark their territory – take ownership – and follow through. The word “dogged” refers to a dog’s relentlessness and applies just as well to a leader. Determined leaders are relentless in their ability to focus on what truly matters and avoid distractions, overcoming barriers, and demonstrating grit and fortitude to see things through. They are respected because they pivot from negative to positive, share their fierce resolve with the team, and persuade by aligning goals to what’s important.
Observant leaders are perceptive, aware, and curious. They are committed to taking in as much information as possible in order to make the best decisions. Dogs are always watching, sniffing, and listening to better understand what’s around them. In our ever-changing world, observant leaders are curious about what they learn and use that information to form winning strategies. They succeed because they spot problems early by paying attention to details others don’t see and seize opportunities to innovate and become more efficient. They are respected because they are self-aware, knowing as leader their emotions, words and actions have significant effect on those around them.
The book is filled with leadership stories, dog stories and ways to become a better leader – all without the heavy “I’m reading a textbook to learn something” feeling so many business book evoke. It’s a light-hearted book with a serious bark to it.
Give it a chance!
Mark Anderson is ExecuNet's president and chief economist. An Arjay Miller Scholar, Mark received his MBA from Stanford University and a BA in economics from Yale University. He joined ExecuNet in 1993, with extensive marketing and new product and business development experience, having served as president and founder of A&M Associates, an investment management firm. Mark's corporate leadership experience includes several senior marketing and financial positions with RCA Global Communications (a GE subsidiary) and American Can Company.
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