What Does A Dog Have To Do With Leadership?

Louie and I enjoyed our time at the AWOP XL Leadership Summit. It was an honor to be awarded the Certificate as a Founding Member. Thank you, Chuck and the AWOP team.

Many people asked about our talk so I decided to revisit our leadership information in this blog.

But let me start by asking what does this picture say to you about leadership? Take a moment and ponder this beautiful scene before responding.

I’ve asked that question over the years as I speak in front of numerous audiences and continue to be amazed with the responses. This is not just a picture of a little girl and her dog. This is a picture of life, love, leadership, and trust between my granddaughter, Evi, and Louie, my rescue pup. Here is a sampling of some of the responses I’ve received about leadership: they are on a path together; she is holding the leash in a relaxed, yet firm position; she is overseeing his walk; they are side by side; and he seems to be enjoying wherever they journey together.

Ah, the last point is the very reason I decided to write a blog and a book about Louie. What you don’t see in this picture are the steep hills we climbed and descended, the brush we cut through with our arms, and the mud we waded through just to get to this leveled path—seemingly the most enjoyable part of the journey.

And although it seems that the path was the destination and goal, it was actually the uncomfortable and difficult journey that allowed us, me included because I took the picture, to enjoy this particular space together. Although it took Louie some time, he learned to trust us and somehow knew that no matter what the journey entailed, we would get him to our destination safely.

It is for this reason we invite you on this journey with us. It was not an easy one, yet there were so many hidden treasures along the path that we can look back with joy and a promise of better leadership behaviors for others and myself.

Although I’d love to say this journey began with sunshine, warmth, and puppy kisses, that just isn’t true. The truth is that when I first adopted Louie, he displayed many challenging behaviors that made me question my decision to adopt him, yet something incredible happened once we engaged a dog trainer. I wasn’t only learning dog-training techniques; I was experiencing leadership development through an entirely unconventional method that proved to be beneficial to Louie and me—and even more so for my clients.

As I shared stories of Louie’s latest escapades with my clients, there was always a leadership lesson to be learned. The more I shared these challenging yet sometimes funny and heartwarming stories, the more the lessons took hold within their entire organization.

Louie and I journeyed together yet, I had no idea I was walking through specific stages of leadership. I wanted this dog to be fun and enjoyable. Many times, I will admit that seemed almost impossible, but we persevered.

Once I looked back over the years, I saw a pattern in our lessons. And then I saw the stages unfold and a model emerge. We now have a straightforward and effective leadership model that helps individuals, students, and leaders at all levels to improve their leadership skills and behaviors, improve their engagement, increase productivity, and most importantly—enjoy life. This method is specifically designed to develop leaders to develop leaders.

I have refined all that Louie has taught me into a leadership model that is easy to remember and follow, the LOUIE Leadership Model:


  1. Love, trust, and respect are foundational in leadership (and many times that means choosing to love the unloveable)
  2. Objectives and goals are needed to provide direction, strategy, and alignment.
  3. Understanding others and ourselves is key to work through conflict.
  4. Investment in building relationships and developing leaders.
  5. Empowerment and encourage your team to thrive and succeed.

Thanks to Louie, I’ve learned the real value of love and leadership. Our journey together has revealed how to truly love others and how to lead and successfully develop leaders. We still have a lot of work to do but both of us have been transformed thanks to the power of loving a little lost dog.

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