I often work out of my home, but I still have the best office mate in the whole world. He’s always enthusiastic, never misses a day, and keeps me on my toes. He is Grunt, my poodle. I’ve talked about dogs in this column before, regarding networking, leadership, growth, and authenticity. This week marks the 20th annual Take Your Dog to Work Day, and I can’t wait to celebrate.
Of course it’s fun and adorable to take your dog to work, but there’s good business reason, too. Dogs demonstrate admirable personal qualities and strong business sense. They’re loyal and forgiving, and rarely have attitude problems. They pick up on subtle cues to identify good and bad people and situations. Business leaders need these same skills. They need to know when it’s safe to take a chance and when it’s time to retreat.
Here’s how you can evaluate opportunities and develop the same animal instinct for business:
1. Use all your senses, all the time.
Dogs have highly developed senses, and they fully use each one. When dogs come across something new, they give it a thorough examination using every tool available to them. Business opportunities require the same careful inspection. When you come across a new idea, consider every aspect carefully. If a dog’s most powerful tool is its nose, a human’s is its ears. Above all, listen. Pay attention to the personalities involved. Focus on the key information amid the din. Do as much research as you can.
2. Does it pass the sniff test?
Once you’ve given a new opportunity or a new person a thorough examination, what’s your conclusion? Dogs rely on their instincts, and you should, too. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. So like a dog, approach with caution and follow your gut. And also like a dog, pay special attention to where the crap comes out.
3. If you love it, run at it with all your enthusiasm!
There’s no gray area for dogs. If they find something they like and trust, they’re all in. Once you’ve found an opportunity and completed a thorough examination, decide what you think. Do you like it? Then LOVE it. Business leaders need vision and conviction. If you can’t see how an opportunity or person will fit into your future, you need to reevaluate. Waffling will only confuse your team and hamper your company’s growth. If you pursue something, really go for it.
4. Make it work, anywhere and everywhere.
Dogs are happy creatures. They can find contentment in just about any situation, and they always find a reason to be enthusiastic. Their attitude is infectious. Strong leaders and good employees are adaptable, too. They can find the greater purpose in the mundane and spread joy amid malaise. The attitude of the leader spreads quickly to the rest of the team, which means toxicity descends rapidly.
5. Network, network, network!
I mentioned this above, but it bears repeating. Dogs are social animals. In fact, they’re basically networking machines. There’s no time for shyness with so many people to meet and butts to sniff. Effective leaders need to have a similar enthusiasm for getting to know new people. A strong network is an invaluable tool in so many ways. You can tap into it for advice, learning, hiring, opportunities, and so much more. Don’t miss an opportunity to grow your network and deepen your relationships in it.