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A Dogs Life

Optimize Blog - December 5, 2012 - 0 comments

A charity in New Zealand is teaching rescued dogs how to drive a car……this is not an April 1st blog, this is in fact really happening. No, really.
The canine driving school is trying to prove how intelligent the animals can be in the hope that more rescue dogs will be adopted.
Monty the Giant Schnauzer is among the novice drivers who have learned to control the brakes, gears and steering wheel. His training took just seven weeks and he is now able to pilot a car alongside a human who gives him a set of simple commands. Monty was previously given up to the rescue home by his owners as being ‘unmanageable’.
The dogs don’t get to the level of actually being able to drive on the road – they do not foresee any applications for canine driving licenses any time soon, but the exercise does demonstrate what can be achieved through learned behaviour.
Each behaviour, like using the converted accelerator pad and gear lever change (yes, they are driving a manual vehicle), is a trained behaviour. By constant training and reward, the animals associate each command with an action enabling them to pilot the car albeit it at very slow speeds and in a space with plenty of room for error…….
But can leadership be learned? It seems that leadership, one of the scarcest and least enduring components of human capital, is not learned easily or well. Leadership is the dynamic that galvanizes individuals into groups. In leadership training much of what is taught is, in fact, not leadership at all but management. It is entirely possible to learn and even to put into practice what is taught and still fail at being a good leader. The essential components of leadership have remained more or less constant: intelligence, insight, instinct, vision, communication, discipline, courage, constancy. All can be studied and studied again.
Some of the trained practical components of being a leader are for example: understanding strategy, understanding personality types, understanding the different perspectives of the people on your team, execution of a plan, project planning and business literacy. There are so many different components of being a leader that in our experience these things need to be learned.
As we have said before, research suggest that 10,000 hours of practice qualifies a person as being an expert in a given discipline. As we gain experience in the leadership role, we become better leaders provided we learn and practice those skills necessary to become a great leader. It does not happen by osmosis, it happens through learned behaviour.
If Monty the unmanageable Giant Schnauzer can learn to drive a car in seven weeks, there must be hope for all of us on our leadership journey…..

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