In last week’s blog post, I mentioned an online article titled, Why Your Dog Follows You Everywhere, According to Behaviorists by Katelyn Chef. The article described “imprinting,” when “young puppies up to six months of age can imprint on their owners and learn to read social cues as they would their birth mother.”1
Imprinting and leadership
What does all of this have to do with leadership? Everything. Think about who you follow. How have they imprinted on you? What habits and mannerisms have you picked up from them? We had a fire chief one time who consistently used a couple of phrases: “bad dog” and “what say you?”
You probably already guessed it, but there were individuals who started saying “bad dog” on a rather frequent basis and when those same individuals taught a class and made a statement, it was followed by “what say you?”
No doubt imprinting occurred, and the point is leaders impact us. Sometimes for the good and sometimes for the worse.
What about you?
Who are you following? Years back the pastor of a church I attended said, “You can’t run with skunks and smell like a rose.”
- Who do you want imprinting you: a values-based leader with character or a skunk?
- Who would you rather follow: a leader who is pleasant to be around or a smelly skunk?
- Who is impacting you: a courageous leader of integrity or someone with a stripe down their back?
Now, turn this around. Who are you imprinting and how? Who is following and watching you? Who are you impacting?
Allow these questions to sink in and invest the time to reflect on them. That is one way we can improve.
1Katelyn Chef, “Why Your Dog Follows You Everywhere, According to Behaviorists,” Martha Stewart September 2021. 21 Sept. 2021, https://www.marthastewart.com/8133863/why-do-dogs-follow-owners-everywhere