Meet our beloved Bruno, a now seven-year-old Chocolate Labrador who can teach us ALL so much about human behaviour and leadership. When we adopted Bruno only two years ago, he was a hefty 40kg, a little slow, lethargic and had no real desire to do the things that most dogs his age enjoy to do. Why run when you can walk, right?

And on the subject of walking, this was when his true behaviours really showed up. This beautiful, gentle soul would transform into a beast with a need to prove himself in our local neighbourhood. 

Triggered by behaviours from his past, the sight of other “competitors” in the form of male dogs became his window of opportunity to put on an incredible show of strength and power. He would pull on the leash, bark and go from a docile dog to a possessed pet ready to throw his excess weight into action.

Who’s Leading Who?

Yet here’s where things get very interesting. We called in an expert coach (Lucas Bong from https://smartdoggy.com/) to help us understand what we could “do” to fix Bruno’s behaviour. 

Of course, the very first thing we needed to do was to assess what was happening, so as we walked along, I signalled to Lucas that “this house is his arch nemesis, he will absolutely without question play up here”. 

As we walked closer to the corner house where Sammy the Singapore Special put on his usual song and dance, barking at the scent and presence of our Bruno, the most incredible thing happened…NOTHING!

Bruno looked at me, then looked at Lucas and simply walked on by as if nothing had EVER happened here before. “He played me out” was how I felt until the penny dropped! 

Ahhhh….So if he was aware of the dog trainer Lucas’s presence and made the decision in that moment not to “react” to the situation at hand, well, that simply meant there was one left over constant in the equation…It was me.

I soon realised that I had been reacting to the situation both emotionally and physically every time it happened. I would pre-empt the challenge before it happened and would already be pulling on the leash as a desperate attempt to prevent what was about to happen. This training/coaching was never meant for Bruno. It was for me. 

It was then that I was schooled in leadership, and through my humble appreciation that we always have something to learn, I learned some very valuable lessons that would serve me in so many areas of life.

Man's best friend

Leadership is Positive, Not Pre-Emptive

Leadership is not thinking something is going to go wrong and being prepared for it. It’s preparing yourself to know with absolute certainty that you will be able to foresee challenges. It’s about trusting and believing in yourself, knowing that you will know how to lead others through those challenges.

That said, leadership doesn’t mean being on the defensive all the time, or having a Murphy’s Law mindset thinking that it will be your job, as the leader, to find ways for cleaning up the mess. Conversely, it means having enough confidence to think that IF (not “when”) anything does go wrong, you AND your team will be able to find ways for working around it.

Being a leader is being able to to show presence of mind and the absence of FEAR, so that others look to you for the certainty that all of you can get through an obstacle, together. And that’s how you, along with everyone else at your organisation, can thrive on uncertainty and boost your collective performance no matter what a situation throws at you. 

A good leader stays positive and in control over things which are actually controllable, instead of being reactive and losing their self-control in an attempt to manage things over which they have little or no control at all. Remember how Bruno chose not to react to Sammy on that walk with Lucas? Way to go, Bruno!

Humility in Leadership

In any company, leaders need humility in accepting and appreciating the need to grow for themselves as an individual and for their people

My ability to listen to Bruno and to be humble enough to know that change starts with me, along with own my vulnerability and acceptance of how I can become better, has now allowed him to feel safe. I’m happy to say he now trusts me even more, and you can give this exact same gift to your people!

While humility isn’t exactly top of mind for a lot of people when asked to name traits they admire most in leaders, there are others who regard it as a must for being an effective business leader

See, humility in leadership isn’t about being self-deprecating or underselling your achievements or abilities. It’s about being able to look at a situation objectively and accepting that the best solutions and innovations can come from others on the team just as well as from you. 

In this way, humble leaders are able to empower their people and foster real collaboration within their organisations. People aren’t afraid to speak up and contribute when they know they’ll be listened to and that their efforts will be appreciated. 

Think about it: How much do you think your people will feel like giving their all when they know their leaders aren’t going to listen, or worse, hog all the glory, right? This is why humble leaders are able to take responsibility for their actions and accept that there is room for them to improve. 


“No matter how good you think you are as a leader, my goodness, the people around you will have all kinds of ideas for how you can get better. So for me, the most fundamental thing about leadership is to have the humility to continue to get feedback and to try to get better—because your job is to try to help everybody else get better.”

– Jim Yong Kim
Physician, Anthropologist, 12th President of the World Bank (2012-2019)

Thank you, Bruno for that wonderful gift of humility which has inspired me to lead and be an even better version for myself, because now, you can do what you do best. Get in touch with us at EQ Strategist to find out how you can be a better leader for your people, too.

Yours in success,

Andrew Davey

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