The message you get from watching Cesar Millan's hit National Geographic Channel program "The Dog Whisperer" is supposed to be how to lead...
The message you get from watching Cesar Millan’s hit National Geographic Channel program “The Dog Whisperer” is supposed to be how to lead your canine pack using calm-assertive energy.
But some viewers feel that techniques the dog trainer shares in his show and books might apply to leadership in the office. Or the family. And that’s OK, Millan says.
“We are pack-oriented. That’s why we get along so well with horses and dogs,” Millan explains, noting that he estimates 20 percent of the people who attend his dog-training seminars are psychologists or psychiatrists.
“Everything we create is based on the pack. The president is a pack leader. The CEO is a pack leader. The pope. The Dalai Lama. Oprah Winfrey. I get letters from political people, saying how this concept is so helpful, and from parents, also, who say, ‘I wish I knew calm-assertive before I had kids.’ “
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Calm-assertive is Millan’s prime management message. A calm-assertive leader is relaxed, but confident that he or she is always in control, he writes in his first book, “Cesar’s Way,” (Harmony Books, 2006).
It’s a simple enough concept to grasp, but the execution can be tough, even for a cool customer like Winfrey, his friend and client. Millan says the media mogul is a prime example of a calm-assertive leader when she’s dealing with her huge, human pack — even-tempered, powerful, always in charge. But when it came to her cocker spaniel, Sophie, well, not so much.
When the shy little dog would show her teeth to other dogs in a defensive manner, Winfrey would scoop her out up and soothe her, affirming the bad behavior.
Winfrey had to learn to correct the dog’s bad behaviors when they occurred and to provide boundaries and guidance to help Sophie become a calm-submissive pack member that was relaxed and open to suggestion.
In short, Winfrey needed to be the type of leader with her dog that she is with her fans and employees.
“Animals are looking for balance, and many humans are looking for balance, but they get distracted and go into another direction,” Millan says.
When out of balance, both humans and canines may feel tense, frustrated and nervous, and that’s limiting, he says.
“You have to take responsibility and stop blaming everything around you and become the most powerful person you can become,” he says.
“Ninty-nine percent of us have the potential to make things better, to have a great vibe and stop hating each other and to solve problems from a common point of view,” Millan says.
Millan finds his balance working with dogs. Others find the new energy working for their families, or their country, like Olympic athletes going for gold.
“Anything that helps you to empower yourself and rebalance,” he says, “go for it.”