Be Like Jack

Apr 05, 2018


Tiffany O'Donnell

Tiffany O'Donnell is the CEO of Women Lead Change, a nonpartisan 501(c)(3) dedicated to the advancement, development, and promotion of women, their organizations and to impacting the greater economy.

1. Grateful.
2. A Convener.
3. Good Listener.
4. A Coach.
5. Loyal.
6. Compassionate.
7. Positive.
8. Patient.
9. Curious.
If you could draw up a leader, my guess is you’d include a few of the above 9 traits. “I’d work for her!” However, in this case, the “her” is a “him” and the “leader” prefers chasing squirrels to chasing the bottom line.

His name is Jack.  He's my 10-year old yellow dog. He’s far from perfect (but,  then again,  good leaders admit they’re not!)

First, and foremost, Jack is grateful.  For every smile, visitor, stranger, and especially for...breakfast.  Every morning, it's as if he shouts with amazement, “I get to have breakfast? Again?! This is the BEST. FOOD. EVER!”  

He's had the same breakfast (and dinner, for that matter) for 10 years.  Always delighted and surprised with just how GOOD it tastes.  (Lesson #1)

Communicating can be hard. Those of us with teenagers know there is a period of time when it can be a challenge to make conversation. Enter: Jack. He is the common ground. The convener. He brings us together. Literally and figuratively.  (Lesson:  #2)

I am well trained. Or, should I say I have a great coach. For example, I don’t move before 5 am unless I’m prepared to get Jack breakfast (see #1). I NEVER leave food within inches of the edge of the counter. Putting on tennis shoes? Guess it’s time for a walk, (even if it’s not.) Oh. And never SAY walk. It must be spelled out, W-A- L-K. If success is measured by following the coach’s direction, Jack’s a winner. (Lesson: #4)

He is loyal, compassionate, always happy, ever-patient and always curious. Just like my favorite human leaders.  

With all that said, the irony isn’t lost on me that this leader requires a collar and a leash and is often trailing behind me on the sidewalk. However, that may be Jack’s most powerful leadership lesson, yet.

Lesson #10: leaders don’t need to stay in front. The good ones know it’s important to occasionally follow.

Category: From the CEO