Pack Leadership: Details Matter

Posted on September 6, 2009


Kai, flat-coat/chow mix, and Rustle, miniature poodle

Kai, flat-coat/chow mix, and Rustle, miniature poodle

Poor Kai. When we first got him, I had no idea how to raise or train a dog. Fortunately, my wife had done everything but take her certification test as a dog trainer. She knew what to do. It took her some time to get though to me.

Details matter. For example, the walk starts before it starts. I have yet to get my dogs calm and submissive before I put the leashes on, but at least they’re submissive. I go out the door first. We spend the first 5-10 minutes with the dogs on short leads before they get the freedom they have in the photo. When we come back, they spend the last 5-10 minutes with the dogs on short leads again. Back at the house, they have to wait to enter until I allow it. By now it’s routine, and I have to take them different places before I see behavior that I can correct.

The details matter in the workplace, too. It matters when you get to work, and when you leave. Your subordinates, superiors, and co-workers notice. It matters whether you go out to lunch or brown bag it, and if you got out, it matter who you go with. For years, I watched my friends struggle with car payments while I dealt with other things. Yes, my car was a 1987 Toyota Corolla, but it was paid for. Cars don’t increase in value, like houses, so I saw no point in investing in new ones every few years. I maxed out my contributions to my 401K every year, because saving for retirement was important to me, and because I wanted to set the example for my younger direct reports. Details matter.

Details can seem distracting. When you’re up to your backside in alligators, it’s tough to clear the swamp. So you have to plan for the alligators. You can learn to pay attention to details unconsciously. The military teaches it to service members every day. So tomorrow, when you get up for work, take an extra moment to review the details about your appearance and actions.

Until then, remember that Labor Day isn’t about your work, it’s about remembering the Labor Movement, and enjoy the day off all those labor organizers earned you.

Posted in: Leadership