Four Golden Rules of Management
All I Know About Management I Learned from My Dog
Martin Levin was a widow, whose wife, Marcia Obrasky Levin, died after sixty-eight years of marriage. Levin was grieving his wife and he knew that he needed help with the situation. He did go to a therapist but after a while realized that it wasn’t helping enough. The therapist said, that he will feel better if he gets a dog. (Levin, 15.)
Finally, Levin decided to go for it with his “chief of staff”, called Paula (Levin, 15). He didn’t expect that he would be gaining a companion in his eighty-ninth year (Levin, 16), but he surely did.
The research question was that “Is there some kind of advantage from six decades of experience in management positions when it comes to managing a dog?”. The hypothesis was that raising a dog wouldn’t be a very challenging experience and you wouldn’t need much of an experience for it. (Levin, 9.)
Levin tested the hypothesis by adopting a rescue dog from the Briarcliff SPCA. The dog was called Angel. Angel was a mature female golden retriever/virgule chow mix. (Levin, 16.)
Martin did find out that there’s definitely help from six decades of experience in management positions when it comes to managing a dog. He came up with the results that there’s “4 Golden Rules of Management” when it comes to managing a dog or managing an employee. (Levin, 10.)
All those four rules aim to one big goal – “to help an individual (or dog) achieve her fullest potential.” (Levin, 10).
Those “4 Golden Rules of Management” were Trust & leadership, Communication, Problem solving & decision making and Perseverance (Levin, 11). In the next chapters, I’ll tell more about those “4 Golden Rules of Management” and what they mean in practice.
2.1 Trust & Leadership
Trust in this case means that you need to achieve an employee’s trust. You need to provide the individuals basic needs, security and the opportunity for an employee to achieve his or her full potential to gain the trust of them. (Levin, 42).
He also quotes another book called In Search of Excellence, by Thomas Peters and Robert H. Waterman, Jr. Levin tells that in this book the authors write about their findings in corporate excellence that they did by the study of seventy-five companies. (Levin, 49.)
The investigations for the study were done in the winter of 1979 and 1980 (Levin, 50). And the findings were that there are eight characteristics that make an excellence company:
1. Bias for action, for getting on with it. 2. Stay close by your customer. 3. Autonomy and entrepreneurship. 4. Productivity through people. 5. Hands-on: value-driven. 6. Stick to the knitting. 7. Simple form: lean staff. 8. Simultaneous “loose-tight” properties (Levin, 49-50).
Nowadays Google is contemporary model of these eight characteristics (Levin, 50).
Levin says that management comes in all sizes and shapes (Levin, 47) but “Trust, respect, and leadership (along with a little love) are the bedrock of excellent companies” (Levin, 49).
Levin says that the body language is as important part of the communication with dogs as with humans (Levin, 67). “Body language is as expressive as words and in some cases reveals emotions that may at times be contrary to the words.” (Levin, 68).
Even in the time of the internet the most effective way to communicate is still face-to-face communication. Not via technology-based devices like an e-mail or a video call. Leaders have to learn the special skill to motivate people and to reach the hearts and minds of listeners by using
words. (Levin, 72 & 75.) “The most special gift humans possess is, of course, language.” (Levin, 75).
2.3 Problem solving & Decision making
Levin quotes Peter F. Drucker’s book The Practice of Management in his book by writing Drucker’s words “Whatever a manager does he does through making a decision. The only kind of decision that centers on problem solving is the unimportant, the routine, the tactical. But the important decisions are strategic.” (Levin, 78).
There are little differences how a successful decision making would go with a dog versus in the work environment. First there’s what a successful decision making involves with a dog and then there’s what it involves in the work environment:
1. Define the problem – Ask the the right question to obtain the information needed 2. Look at potential causes – Identify alternatives 3. Identify alternatives – Rank the probability of the alternatives in arriving at a successful outcome on a timely basis 4. Action plan – Make the decision 5. Monitor implementation of the plan – Stay with it trough implementation and make modifications when necessary 6. Post-mortem – Do a post-mortem to utilize the information gained to aid in making the next decision (Levin, 79 & 80).
Despite the steps above, decision making always involves risks (Levin, 80). “The best and most crucial decision require that we use all of the brain.” (Levin, 84). What that means is that we can’t make our decisions just by being rational, there are always feelings involved in the decision making and problem solving, and we just must accept it.
In strategic planning or in other words in decision making and problem solving, we must remember that it’s always about the people (Levin, 98). Levin says that first and foremost it’s important to focus on making employees feel secure and happy in any organization if you want to succeed (Levin, 99).
Levin thinks that Stephen King’s life story is a world-class example of demonstration of persistence (Levin, 106). From the stories that Levin tells in his book it seems clear that If we want to reach our dreams and goals, we need perseverance. It doesn’t matter if the goal is to be a good leader or a good dog owner, the perseverance is still one of the key things. Levin says that for gaining persistence you need time and effort, but he also says that it seems that perseverance is our heritage (Levin, 109 & 115).
“Experts, both within the dog world and outside it, agree that perseverance, the will to keep driving forward to a goal, is an essential ingredient in becoming successful in all endeavors.” (Levin, 102).
Levin says that those “4 Golden Rules of Management” are so simple that even Angel gets it (Levin, 11). “If a manager can develop trust, it will lead to corporate excellence, provided he is able to communicate effectively, make the right strategic decisions, and, above all, persevere.” (Levin, 12).
It took nearly two years from Levin to get to his ultimate goal of all management with Angel. The ultimate goal of all management was to help an individual or in this case a god to achieve her fullest potential (Levin, 10) and he did it by using those “4 Golden Rules of Management”. Those “4 Golden Rules of Management” are also the steps to achieve the employee’s full potential and being a good leader.
Levin, M. 2012. All I Know About Management I Learned from My Dog.