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Like many other home-bound folks, we added a furry family member early in the pandemic. Tux is a two and a half year old Shih Tzu and, like all dogs, has managed to fully integrate into all aspects of our daily lives.

While he has completed the first level of doggy training (and graduated top dog within his cohort!), over the past two years, he has taught me a few lessons in leadership and project management which are worth sharing.

Don’t squander opportunities to rest

Although Tux is a very active little dog who loves to chase his stuffed toys from one end of a room to the other, he also rests whenever he is not being actively stimulated. This gives him the ability to give 100% of his energy when something catches his attention.

Most projects and life itself is a marathon not a sprint so take the time to recharge your batteries whenever possible and encourage your team members to do likewise.

Don’t hold grudges

While we’ve occasionally had to discipline Tux for bad behavior, once his transgression and our accompanying discipline has been delivered, he is quick to rebound to his usual sunny disposition.

Stakeholders, sponsors and your team members will sometimes let you down, and if they do, forgive and (be willing to) forget so long as this is an infrequent occurrence.

Be curious

Whether it is an open closet door, a shopping bag or an unfamiliar sound, Tux will rarely miss the opportunity to investigate it. Tux is also always ready to try a new food even though he really enjoys his regular meals.

While we might think we are correct with a given decision, that should not prevent us from considering other paths. And while we might encourage diversity in the make up of our team, a lack of curiosity leads to less inclusiveness.

The stakeholder cup is half full

Tux is not afraid of any person or other dog. Whether they play with him or not, he will wag his tail and greet them with good intent. And (with dogs, not humans!) if they bark or lunge at him, he won’t take it personally but will just let them be and won’t let that affect his positive reactions in the future.

Certain stakeholders might make our team members’ lives miserable but that shouldn’t mean that we should be suspicious about the intent of all stakeholders. Remember that you will catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

Everything I know I learned from dogs.” – Nora Roberts

(If you liked this article, why not pick up my book Easy in Theory, Difficult in Practice which contains 100 other lessons on project leadership? It’s available on  and on  as well as a number of other online book stores)

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