Leaders most often say they want their employees to be fully engaged and act like owners, but as soon as the employee does something as preposterous as using their own judgment, the leader swoops in and intervenes.
I say leaders need to treat their employees like a seeing eye dog!
The Seeing Eye is a place where they train guide dogs to help the visually impaired and is the oldest guide dog school in the world. The fascinating part of this American Airlines video was when the interviewer asked the dog trainer what type of characteristics they looked for in guide dogs.
His answer was completely fascinating and totally appropriate to the arena of customer engagement and employee engagement.
The trainer said, “There are two types of dogs that don’t make it here. The dogs that are totally obedient and the dogs that are totally disobedient.”
The trainer elaborated, “The characteristics we look for in a guide dog are selective disobedience.”
I still remember spilling my red wine and spitting my food into the passenger’s hair in front of me!
What a blinding flash of the obvious!
When the interviewer asked for an explanation, the dog trainer simply said, “the first two types of dogs will get the master killed. The one who is totally disobedient is very obvious. It’s the one who is totally obedient that is interesting. Could you imagine the totally obedient dog standing on the corner while the traffic light is red, and his master says Go!, and the dog looks down the street, sees an 18-wheeler coming down the road and the dog thinks to himself; this is really going to be a bummer.”
What they look for is a dog that does what ever the master says unless it doesn’t make sense.
How many times as organizations do we make our employees go through policies, procedures or practices that don’t allow them to use their judgment, even when the policy or procedure doesn’t make sense?
Answer: Too Many!
Does your organization spend countless hours of energy recruiting, screening, hiring, training and developing the best and brightest candidates available?
Answer: Yes. Of course you do!
One last question, once the employees are there, don’t you think you can treat them at least as good as the seeing eye dog?
Answer: Of course you can.
P.S. If you are honest with yourself, I bet you are either doing it too little or certainly not enough!