Can you teach an old dog new tricks?
Yes, you can. And here is why? We create our relationships. We create the people who work with us or for us. We create our dogs.
That’s why you hear stories of dogs that destroyed a house or we hear stories of people in companies who were completely lazy but as soon as they relocated, found a company and leader that better suited them or in the case of the dog, found a leader and home that better suited them, their behavior completely shifted. Why? Because when you change the environment you change the dog.
And when a human sets up the relationship correctly right from the beginning, a dog will do anything to please you.
Your energy, your commitment to the relationship, your consistency, and your trust will be key to the relationship with your dog. If your dog knows that you trust him, she will trust you. But the trust has to come from you first; it can’t go the other way around. And I even have quite a few personal experiences where this became very clear to me. Once you have the trust, your dog will be loyal forever and will do whatever it takes to serve and be with you.
And once you have the trust, creativity, and agility are necessary to change an old dog new tricks. Most people/leaders are set in their way. I sometimes hear people say, “I taught my former dog this behavior through x, and therefore this dog needs to learn it the same way and if not, he is stupid or old.” No, the dog doesn’t have to conform to the way you trained your last dog; it is up to you to conform to your new dog and bring the best out of her. That is what leadership is all about.
And I hear similar stories from my clients in the business world. They want all their employees to be the same. They want the employees to come fully assembled, completely engaged, and highly skilled. As a matter of fact, they want their team members as hard-working as they are. Leaders have these expectations when people come to their business and then they get disappointed when reality doesn’t match their expectations. And then they blame the people but what they tend to forget is that some of these people got rescued from ineffective leaders; so they don’t know better yet. They come with their own trauma and destructive behavior.
And with that being said, all these skills such as energy, commitment, consistency, trust, creativity, and agility are equally necessary to teach your new team members in the workplace new tricks.