The Top Tips Blog

It Was A Work Meeting!

delegation leadership self awareness

The labrador you're looking at was in no way at a party during lockdown restrictions. It was a business meeting. For work purposes solely.

Okay, there might have been some cheese and wine and perhaps the odd Bonio but that was only at the end of a gruelling day.

It was most definitely a business meeting. Not a party at all.

What hat? Oh, that hat! Ignore the hat.


Black Dog

We should hold our lying politicians to account but I'm actually going to give the labrador a free pass. That's because it isn't the labrador's fault. 

I know labradors really well. I grew up with labradors. I was basically a slightly less feral version of Mowgli. 

The first lab we had was Binca, a super intelligent black beauty. She ran out of our back door on the eve of Valentine's Day while she was in season. Her wannabe boyfriend had been camping out on the lawn and my dad had warned us not to let her run off. It was my dad that opened the back door. 

Binca came back after about an hour and then two months later gave birth to eight puppies. It was a multi coloured litter and we homed them all apart from Whistle, a yellow male who stayed with us for the next fifteen years.


Old Shep

Whistle was as daft as a brush but he was my partner in crime for all sorts of escapades. 

By the time he passed away I was in my late twenties and a teacher in Surrey. I heard in the morning and remember just trying not to cry all day at school.

Dogs will break your heart and leave a big hole which is maybe why my mum then got Molly, a untrainable chocolate labrador.

Molly has very little restraint, no shame and not a shred of remorse. She constantly embarrases anyone who takes her out.

Our dog chronology has gone the wrong way round. We started off with a super clever, brilliantly trained dog and ended up with a guilt free village idiot who leaves muddy paw marks on everyone she meets. Molly's great.


Dog Days Are Over

I guess I'm telling you that I know labradors really well. And labradors like to eat food. The breed has evolved to eat a 'see food' diet. If they see food they'll eat it.

They will eat anything and everything that's put in front of them. Labradors just love stuffing their furry fat faces and will consume as much as you offer them. 

This leads to this week's point: if you are the owner of a labrador and the dog is fat then this is your fault.

Now let me get to the real point.

You may have the equivalent of fat labradors at work. A fat labrador at work is someone who is cutting corners or missing deadlines. In one way or another they're not pulling their weight. They are somehow shirking.

But the thing is you're letting them do it. You're facilitating their ineptitude. You're covering for their laziness. You're encouraging their lack of progress. You're denying them the opportunity for growth.

You're doing this by not holding them to account.


Martha My Dear

Of course the labrador should eat less. But we're not focusing on this. We're focusing on the person with the keys to the food cupboard.

That's you!

If you're a leader or a colleague with responsibility it is you I want to focus on.

You should hold your labrador to account by feeding it less. Stop allowing it to overeat. Reduce the opportunities it has to stuff its face.

Why? For loads of reasons

  • For you
  • For them
  • For your clients / pupils / colleagues / customers
  • For the organisation

If you don't address the situation and deal with it then you are responsible for the consequences. Much more so than the labrador.


Who Let The Dogs Out?

You won't be able to spot your fat labradors by the heavy footsteps and slowly wagging tail. Those are the markers of a real physical fat labrador. If you're looking out for those then this metaphor really hasn't worked.

(I know it's a bit of a convoluted message but when people get it they really like it. It's just the way I explain it that needs a bit of work.)

Anyway, your cues are going to be colleagues or employees (or bosses) doing things like this:

  • Failing to deliver
  • Looking the other way 
  • Missing deadlines
  • Arriving late
  • Leaving early
  • Never volunteering
  • Always asking for favours
  • Hiding when it's time to step up

But again those aren't the really bad bits. Well, they are definitely bad and as I say they'll lead downhill, but the really bad bit is your response.

If you're allowing these things to happen then your labrador is plumping up and you are responsible for it.


Take Me For A Walk 

You have to hold people to account. If you don't then you just get repeated behaviours, stagnation and ingrained bad habits that you've already indicated are acceptable.

So guess what!?

They're going to occur again and again. And your results are going to suffer.

Holding people to account. When we don't do it we're creating fat labradors. The labradors will keep coming and keep on eating as many extra doggy chocs as they can.

If you are a leader then consider yourself the owner of labradors. If any of the labradors is fat this is your fault.

The real challenge is for you to hold them to account. That's the one real constant you need to get good at and get used to.


Bark At The Moon

Holding others to account is not easy. You have to tell them that what they're doing is not acceptable.

Embrace the discomfort of explicitly explaining to people that something is not good enough. That something is not acceptable.

Like having cheese and wine parties when the rest of the country is abiding by stringent rules for example.


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