Lady walking a big dog

Everybody Wants To Be The Big Dog

When I was a kid, we called people our dog as a term of endearment. Yeah I know, a strange slang term. But hear me out.

  • Your “Road Dog” was the person that you went out on the town with. 
  • The “Big Dog” was somebody in charge or in a position of authority or someone you respected.
  • And Snopp Dogg was a famous hip hop artist.

This fascination with dogs is not new. 

Many years ago people marveled over Snoopy, the dog from Charlie Brown. Growing up, I personally watched Scooby-Doo, another dog. And who could forget the superhero Underdog. Oddly enough, I have a friend of about 20 years and I’m not sure if he knows my real name. When we talk, he frequently greets me with, “Hey Big Dog.”

But being the big dog does not mean that you get to aimlessly boss everyone around.

  • A lot of power comes with that position. 
  • But with great power comes great responsibility.

Fun fact. “With great power comes great responsibility”, alternatively known as the Peter Parker principle, is a proverb popularized by the Spider-Man comic books written by the later great Stan Lee. Who said you couldn’t learn anything from comics?

Being the big dog means bringing out the best in others.

To do that, sometimes you must allow others to lead.

This video clip shows a big dog helping someone gain confidence by allowing him to lead.

It’s important to remember that a big part of being in charge is bringing out the best in others.

How can you be the big dog 

When interacting with others, sometimes you will lead and other times you will follow. When you have your chance to be in charge it is your moral obligation to make the most of the situation.

Making the most of the situation requires three things.

First, you must know the goal you are trying to achieve. We often miss the mark in life because we have not clearly defined what the ultimate outcome looks like. If you’re in sales, your goal may be to increase sales by a certain percent. If you’re an auditor, your goal may be to complete projects on time. You must define the goal.

Second, you must determine the tools and/or skills required for the task. All too often, we are asked to perform tasks and have not been adequately trained or given the appropriate tools. For example, you cannot expect a staff member to be successful given a presentation to a client if you have not prepared them on proper public speaking etiquette. 

Third, you must match the skills required and tasks to an appropriate person. This might mean using your role to help develop a skill in another team member.

What does big dog leadership look like in real life?

Leading when you’re in charge

If you are in charge of a department, define your goals and communicate them to your team. Then, determine the tasks each of your employees are good at and/or interested in.

Allow them to lead in areas where they are strong. Also, support them in doing tasks that stretch them outside of their comfort zone. Set them up for success. 

For example, for that staff auditor who has never led a project, start them off with something small and manageable. Give them a leadership role over a small piece of a larger project.

Leading from the middle

If your position is in middle management, ask your supervisor how can you make his life easier. He may be able to delegate tasks that give you a glimpse of what his job entails.

For people reporting to you, give them tasks that help prepare them to move up in the ranks. This is a good chance to delegate some items. But don’t use delegation for tasks that you simply do not want to do. Use it as a growth opportunity.

Leading as the new guy/girl

Leadership opportunities are everywhere. Help your fellow teammates. Ask your boss how you can make her life easier. Ask your peers the same thing. Look for opportunities to accomplish shared objectives. It’s not about fancy titles. It is about getting the job done. You’ll find that leadership opportunities open by simply asking “What can I do to help you?” Someone will give you an assignment and allow you to take the lead and be the big dog. If you do well, they will do it again.

The real secret to being the big dog

The real secret to becoming the big dog is not that difficult.

Ask yourself two questions…

  • First, am I helping this person realize their full potential? 
  • Second, am I solving a problem?
  • Do these two things and you will win at being the big dog.

My name is Robert Berry. I help improve people, processes and profits. I specialize in communicating through questions.

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Background photo created by senivpetro –

Robert Berry (108)

Robert (That Audit Guy) Berry is a risk, compliance and auditing advocate, educator and innovator. He helps good professionals become better by creating articles, web services and training that allow them to expand their knowledge network.

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