“Hounds possess excellent noses and high amounts of stamina. Tracking scents, chasing game, and deep bonds with their human companions are all hallmarks of this diverse group of dogs.”(1)

Great leaders possess excellent skills for listening and observing and most seem to have boundless energy for their passions. While every leader is unique and there is no one-size-fits-all personality, the best leaders can and do form deep bonds with those they lead. 

See any similarities? In this article, we’ll look at just one of the many ways that we can take a cue from hound dogs to improve leadership skills. 

SNIFF OUT DISAPPOINTMENTS 

Why would a leader use their keen senses to “sniff out disappointments”? Here’s an example: Jan is walking through her company and, as is her common practice, she says hello or stops for a brief chat with each staff member she passes. Sometimes called “managing by walking around,” Jan just knows that this provides her with important feedback and lets her quickly assess the “temperature” of both operations and personnel. 

One thing Jan is on the lookout for is any hint of disappointment among the staff. She has learned that if you detect disappointment, you can find an unfulfilled expectation right behind it. Rather than interact with the “feeling” of disappointment, Jan probes for the expectation. That’s what can be powerful to uncover, bring out into the light of day, and manage. 

Expectations shape our reality. Our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors are all affected. This makes them extremely impactful. However, not every leader is like Jan, one who realizes that expectations are complex and can both have positive and negative outcomes.

There are those who view them as bad, and those who view them as good. 

“Expectation is the mother of all frustration.” — Antonio Banderas

“High expectations are the key to everything.” — Sam Walton

When you hold expectations, you have a belief about how something is or how it will be. You give your trust to something or someone. If it fails to live up to your expectations — whether it be other people, an event, or even yourself — it’s going to hurt. You’ll get disappointed, angry, and frustrated.

When Jan senses disappointment, she communicates with that person to discover what exactly failed to meet their expectation, and, importantly, was that expectation founded/reasonable to have. 

“I beg your pardon. I never promised you a rose garden…”  (2) 

Don’t go all-out and invest your heart and mind into expectations about something you cannot control.

Don’t avoid having expectations all together. Without proper ones, your standards will be low, and you might lack the drive to reach your goals. You have to expect to be successful.

“Treat a man as he is and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he can and should be and he will become as he can and should be.” — Stephen R. Covey

Be tuned in. The best leaders quickly notice feelings of disappointment in themselves and others. Then, they identify the source, i.e., the expectation.  This awareness helps them to quickly bounce back because they can see if it was something outside of their control or, if they’ve underperformed and disappointed themselves, they can re-center and move forward with enhanced understanding and effort. 

Everyone can benefit from learning how to use expectations in a motivating way and how to navigate the outcome when they are not met instead of being caught up in disappointment, anger, or feeling defeated. 

Being a role model for this practice will have profound impact on those you lead or influence because of proximity. Go sniff around for wafts of disappointment and when expectations are successfully re-set, give yourself a treat. 

  1. Excerpt from “11 of the Most Popular Hound Dog Breeds” by Chad Taylor (dailypaws.com) 
  2. From “Rose Garden” by Joe South (1967) 

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