Stop Eating My Wife’s Shoes!

by Jonathan Eisler

Part 3 in our ongoing Leadership Lessons from a 4-Legged Friend series:

How can a leader inspire and foster an organizational culture where freedom, innovation and efficiency prosper, and how can I stop my dog from eating my wife’s shoes?

Despite being very different scenarios with very different stakes, the answer is the same:

Clarity of vision and consistency in feedback.

As our new pup, Whiskey Rose, is learning what it means to be part of our family, I’m reminded how important these two qualities are from a leadership perspective. Whether we’re defining organizational culture or which couch not to jump on, reinforcing a clear vision is crucial to our success.

Example: Whiskey Rose likes my wife’s shoes a lot—but not as much as my wife! After her first pair was ruined, my wife and I made it very clear to Whiskey Rose that her behavior was unacceptable. By diligently reinforcing good behavior with simple “yes” and “no” feedback,  we’re already seeing Whiskey Rose adopting the behaviors she’ll need to become a fully-integrated member of our household.

And you know what? After the second pair, Whiskey Rose got the message.

Now, let me be clear: I’m not equating people with puppies (though I might argue that puppies are people). What I am saying is that the world-renowned psychologist, BF Skinner, was onto something when he talked about positive and negative reinforcement; and that goes for business interactions, friendships, personal discipline, romances and even puppy training.

Now that Whiskey Rose is on board with our “vision,” she’s starting to see her world expand as she’s left unattended for longer periods of time and has the opportunity to explore more and more of the house on her own. Trust is building, and we’re all happier for it.

So, too, can a business leader inspire and foster a culture of freedom and trust.

For further reading: Part 1 of Leadership Lessons from a 4-Legged Friend | Part 2 of Leadership Lessons from a 4-Legged Friend

Jonathan Eisler is the Managing Director of Perspectives Organizational Consulting Group. To explore ways of fostering a culture of freedom, innovation and efficiency where you work, contact him at 312.636.6609 or

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