What can your pet teach you about leading better?

Pet ownership is a tremendous responsibility. Without our purposeful care our pet may suffer. Pets provide us companionship, but did you know they can help you grow as a leader?  Let me tell you how.

If we are unable to meet the needs of our pet, how can we begin to meet the needs of our team?

Naming instills ownership

We have a guinea pig. His name is Half-Pint.

You might think the name a bit odd for a guinea pig. I think so too. However, when we got him we thought we had purchased a female. You would think that would be easy to tell, but when they are so small even the seller was mistaken.

Meet Half-Pint
Thinking our little guy was a female, our daughter bestowed the name based on the Laura Ingalls Wilder’s character “Half-Pint” as we were in the midst of reading her Little House on The Prairie book.

Just as in life, when we name something, we own it and take responsibility for it. This meant that the responsibility became our daughter’s.

Identity drives behavior

Our goal was to have 2 guinea pigs so they could keep each other company. We looked on Craig’s list and found another female right away and began to introduce them to each other to see how they might get along. Interesting things started happening when we put the two together. Half-Pint was more energetic than usual and began chasing Feona around the cage. Something didn’t seem right!

That is how we discovered Half-Pint was never female. He was always male and thinking back on this time, I realize that his identity never changed at all. It was our family’s realization of his identity that needed to change. Half-Pint knew who he was the whole time. We were the ones that were ignorant.

What all creatures need 

Food and Water

Our pet requires food and water to survive. It is our responsibility to know what they need, the right amount based on their maturity and the right time(s) to provide it to them.

Healthy Environment

They require a safe place to live their life. It is our responsibility to keep them safe from external threats and provide stimulus that they enjoy and can feel content.

Care and Attention

More than just a safe environment, they need us. They know we care when we pay attention to them on their terms. For some pets it is talking to them, touching them, brushing them, or just being in a place they can see us.

Someone to Show the Way

Some pets have special needs and require training. It is our responsibility to provide what they need so they can behave in ways that respect their environment, people, and other pets. We need to lead them by providing them teaching, enforcing what they have learned, and rewarding them along the way.


Inviting a pet into our home has helped deepen my respect for people and lead better because I realize that each person requires special attention based upon their needs, not mine.  


  • How can you show your team you care?
  • What does your team need that you have not given them that you could do even if it is not inconvenient?
  • What annoying things does your team do that you can accept and forgive?

Shepherding: The art of becoming the leader others want to follow