Bimbo Banter

Must Love Dogs

  • Wildcard
  • March 22, 2019
  • by Emily Turner


In honor of National Puppy Day (March 23—who knew?), we wanted to share some practical leadership and communication lessons from dogs. While it’s not a prerequisite that you must be a dog lover to work at Spaeth Communications, we are a dog-friendly office. In fact, the saddest time in our 32-year history was when we moved from our beloved Oak Grove location to our new high-rise offices. The new office is gorgeous, it was only sad because of the landlord’s no-dog policy. We may or may not have smuggled a pup or two into the building, we’ll never tell.

Speaking of sad—after having lost our sweet, Weimaraner Brando this past fall, my family decided to get a new puppy one month later. While that wasn’t the plan, it was kismet and a healthy dose of encouragement from Merrie that made me realize that our house just wasn’t a home without a four-legged friend. Enter Sir Charles “Barkley” Turner, a sweet Goldendoodle pup who we brought home at six weeks old. Puppies are hard. They bring endless joy, but lots of added work and responsibility. Thankfully, my children are old enough now to help out and they certainly learned how patience, clear instructions and positive reinforcement play a large part in training a puppy.

What are the leadership and communication lessons you might ask? Those can be found in this insightful and inspiring article from the Detroit Free Press. Warning: this heartwarming story about service dogs may induce tears. However, it will also induce an appreciation about how much dogs can teach us. Human resource managers have touted this unique hands-on training program, designed by Leader Dogs for the Blind, that puts business leaders through their paces. 

The experience was best summed up by Phil Bertolini, CIO for Oakland County who said, "When you're in leadership, you want to control things. That took me out of my comfort zone. I had to purely trust the dog.” And there you have the biggest lesson of all. Trust in your employees. This speaks directly to employee engagement and retention. Other lessons learned include the importance of clear communication, meaningful guidance and recognition, strategic planning skills, plan implementation skills, team empower skills and change management.

Although my favorite quote from the article came once again from Bertolini when describing the experience. “There's nothing worse than someone droning on and reading from a PowerPoint. This is totally different from that. You're learning from people who learned to work through their life and maneuver through their world without sight. That's powerful." As are the loyal and hardworking dogs who literally change people’s lives for the better. 

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