Training Cats and Dogs?

Consolidating or transforming businesses would do well to identify which is which and avoid trying to turn cats into dogs and vice versa.

Posted by Ian Ferguson, Leadership Coach on May 13, 2024

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Training Cats and Dogs?

Or; How do you get entrepreneurs and company people to work well in the same team?

One is fiercely independent, creative and self-starting (cats) while the other is loyal, collaborates and is prepared to follow instructions (dogs). Both sets of massive strengths. And no one is better overall.

Clearly, huge simplifications. But you will get my drift.

"The key is to encourage both to co-exist and bring the best of their innate behaviours, while learning from each other and accepting they will need to change..."

When entrepreneurs join bigger groups, they fear domestication and rail at being told what to do. In return, the people in the group, rail at new ideas and the lack of order being introduced.

Consolidating or transforming businesses would do well to identify which is which and avoid trying to turn cats into dogs and vice versa.

The key is to encourage both to co-exist and bring the best of their innate behaviours, while learning from each other and accepting they will need to change a bit if they are not to end up fighting like cats and dogs. Prioritise the cat and the house loses its loyal protector, but if you focus too much on the dog the cat can just walk away.

The best way is to help both types to start with self-awareness and understanding their own strengths. Then they can move on to understand how to improve their self-control and ensure they respond to stress rather than be triggered by it. Habit management and practice are essential to finding ways of continuing to exert strengths without alienating others in the process.

In particular, the entrepreneurs joining a bigger team should be offered coaching support to help them deal with the cultural shift necessary. However, key incumbents in the company already, may need support also to ensure they are ready for the challenge of the new.

As a result, it is often best if the new leadership team go through development together, agreeing new language and bonding as they jointly learn new ways of working and being.

In this way, the cats and the dogs can learn from each other and both bring their unique attributes to the team.

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