I was sitting in on the Committee meeting as an observer. Anne Miner is the Chair of this Committee, and it is always interesting to see how she leads.
This day, there was an unusual item on the agenda; “Getting to know each other” and the newest member of the committee was responsible. I was very curious to see what this was about!
The new member, Louise, asked each of the others to answer this question: “If you were an animal, what animal would you be and why?”
Well, I thought to myself, what an odd question. Why would humans want to be animals? And how is knowing the answer going to help these women get to know each other better?
The answers were interesting. And perhaps not surprising given that this was a group of women leaders. One said she would be lioness and another a lion, another an elephant … and so on. Hmmm, I wondered what Anne would say.
“I would be a Border Collie (dog) declared Anne. I keep everyone moving in the right direction.”
Later, I asked Anne for some more details on her selection.
“Did you know that Border Collies lead from the front by giving the herd the “strong eye”? Meaning they inspire and influence others to begin moving in a specific direction? Then they drop back to lead from the side, nudging members of the herd to come into line and follow along?
“When the herd is headed in the agreed direction and everyone is doing what they have agreed to do, the Border Collie leads from behind, observing, encouraging and occasionally popping up to nudge some individuals forward.
“Sometimes it takes quite a while to get the herd moving together. You will have heard the expression “herding cats”; domestic cats are independent creatures who don’t often see themselves co-operating with others and may need to be encouraged, persuaded, even nipped into joining the herd. Border Collies are persistent and eventually they prevail.”
I wasn’t sure I understood how this applied to Anne’s leadership; she doesn’t look like a dog (and her committee members didn’t look like cats) to me. She saw the confused look on my face and went on …
“Let’s replace the word “herd” with “committee” and I think you will see what I mean.
“In the early days, my job as the Committee Chair was to inspire and encourage the committee to move forward.
As the committee agreed on our mandate and began to take action, I stepped to the side to support, encourage and nudge those who were dawdling or unsure of their role.
Then I moved around to behind where I could observe but would not interfere with the committee’s progress; occasionally popping up to the side to nudge some individuals forward.
When we achieved significant milestones, I pushed others to the spotlight to acknowledge and appreciate their contributions.
“When it was time to take on new challenges, I stepped to the front and used the “strong eye” to once again inspire and encourage.”
Ah hah, now I see. Anne doesn’t need to be the centre of attention. She is happy to see others achieve and to celebrate their successes. When she sees someone faltering or needing direction, she appears (like magic) to share her wisdom and experience to help get them moving forward. And of course Anne will make sure the committee, or whatever group she is leading, succeeds!
It seems to me that the world needs more Border Collie type leaders! What do you think?