This point was made very clear to me by leadership guru Linton Sellen this week over breakfast.
Linton had a great way of explaining this idea.
A dog gets a home with good food, a warm bed, people who scratch him in all the right places and lots of love and affection. He thinks, “I love this place. I am going to be loyal to my master and do anything she asks me to.”
A cat gets a home with good food, a warm bed, people who scratch him in all the right places and lots of love and affection. He thinks, “I must be really awesome, look at her treating me like a king, I think I will hang ‘till something better comes along.”
All managers see people being deferential to them. Great managers know that this is not because they are awesome, but simply because of the authority that comes with being an official manager or supervisor.
Great managers don’t abuse that authority; they never kid themselves that someone is willing to meet them for a drink after work just because they are awesome. The manager knows that the employee is deferential to them because they are that employee’s boss. Likely that drink should never even happen. They know it is not their charm, wit and managerial excellence that get people doing things, but their power and authority.
Great managers take the pedestal that comes with a formal position and act like the proverbial dog. They work hard to serve and build loyalty with the people they have authority over.
Where the analogy breaks of course is that the dog has to get things done by leading the team to complete tasks on time and according to plan. Great managers take all the best attributes of the dog and then add in some of the goal orientation and a little bit of the aloofness of the cat.
This youtube video points out a little more on the difference between cats and dogs. I found it hilarious. Enjoy!