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I am a graduate student at George Washington University and I am fortunate enough to be taking a leadership class with a former high-level government official. My professor has served at the highest levels of government, and provides a first hand account how to lead large, complex and bureaucratic government agencies. Every Thursday I’ll post some thoughts on previous lectures that intrigued me, hopefully they do the same for you.

Dogs That Hunt

When you’re faced with a tough situation, whether it be a crisis or just a problem you’ve never faced before, who do you turn to?  Throughout your life you’ll come across people who have trusted in you, but more importantly, you have trusted in them.  These are your “dogs” and they need to know how to “hunt”.  These are the people who would do anything for you and know that you would do anything for them; the same people who understand that everything you’re doing is for the best of the organization.

My professor recalled a situation in which he was faced with a crisis he had never experienced before and any action that he took would have far reaching implications.  His first plan of action was to look for his “dogs”.  When he called upon his most trusted people and explained that he need their insight and help, they came without hesitation.  With the assistance of these people, the impact of the crisis was minimized.

You never want to be in a situation with dogs that don’t hunt.  If you have people who can’t see the big picture of the event and are only interested in their own name and recognition, you are destined to make wrong decisions.  When you find these people in your life, keep a list of them.  Don’t be afraid to call on them when times are tough or when times are good.  Don’t take for granted their support for you as you are likely one of their “dogs”.

Who are your "dogs"?  Who do you turn to when you need direction and guidance on an important decision?

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Tags: Thursday Thoughts, career, communications, leadership

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Comment by Andrew Krzmarzick on February 15, 2013 at 10:38am

For me, I've kept the "dogs" to 2-3 (vs. a full kennel ;). One is more seasoned and the other two are peers. I meet weekly with one guy - just bounced off ideas, talk about life. Another I have monthly lunches set up - a stake in the ground so that we know we'll be touching base regular. The third is more informal and ad hoc, but definitely somewhat regular. I've made few key decisions without bouncing them off these guys - always good to have accountability on goals and a gut check in big moves. 

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