Cattle dog leadership

A fellow in Australia named Attila Ovari began following my blog a while back. I thought his name was remarkable, and decided to give his blog a read in return.

He is a management consultant, and a husband and father, and involved in a hundred projects at once. He is very interesting, and you should give his blog a look.

He wrote a piece recently about something he called “cattle dog leadership,” which I liked very much.

In it, he tells a story about leading a bunch of people (in automobiles) to a destination. He’d given them directions in advance. To his surprise, instead of following him, they took the lead. They made mistakes a couple of times, but he paused when they did, and they came back to him, and then they resumed their course.

So: he was like a cattle dog, staying behind the herd, just giving them guidance when they got off course, but letting them figure out most of it by themselves.

It’s an interesting concept. I’m not much usually for management theory, but I like this, and I liked the way he described it, and I wondered about its applicability in the everyday work environment. Does it work? Can you let your staff just stray out into the wilderness (even with instructions), only giving them guidance when they get off-course?

Well, of course you can.

But it takes a full-time hard-working manager to do that.

And most managers aren’t full-time. (A number of them aren’t hard-working either, for that matter, but let’s not go there.) Most of the managers in my office are doing the same work (more or less) as their subordinates; the “management” portion is a (usually) unwelcome portion of their job.

Some of them are actually mentoring their subordinates. This is wonderful, but, as I said, very time-consuming.

Is there a happy medium?

I’m not sure.

Because those cattle dogs, you know, they work awfully hard.

The Liebster Award


I was surprised and flattered on Monday morning to receive a note from the talented Melissa Hassard, who edits and contributes to the poetry / prose / photography collective “20 Lines A Day,” telling me that she’d nominated me for something called the Liebster Award.  This is a nice little accolade given to bloggers, recognizing them for their contributions. 



It comes with a couple of rules:



        You must thank your nominator in your blog, and link back to his/her blog.

        You must display the award itself (see above).

        You must pass the award on to five other blogs (preferably those with small numbers of readers), and notify them of their award.



Well, thanks to Melissa for the award.  And do check out “20 Lines A Day”; you’ll find some excellent stuff (including Melissa’s poetry, which was the first thing there to catch my eye.)



The nicest thing about the Liebster is that it needs to be passed along.



(I think a lot of us began this thinking it was only a matter of time before we became a combination of the Huffington Post and Martha Stewart Omnimedia.  We have learned.  But we have also had a wonderful time.



(And now, here we are winning awards!)



Here are my five nominees:



        Topsytasty.  This is a very well-written little series of articles, mostly about food, but also about the author’s early life in Rhode Island and his current adventures in the Pacific Northwest.  The author is also the younger son of my frenemy Apollonia, and he shares her wit and eye for detail.

        Going Dutch.  This is mostly photography, with food and anecdotes thrown in; the author / photographer is originally from the Philippines, and now lives with her family in the Netherlands.  She takes wonderful scenery / flower photographs – just the kind I try to take, except that mine never turn out right.  Hers are always beautiful.

        Well, That’s Just Great / Well, That’s Just Ducky.  This is a twofer!  The former is written by Anthony Giffen, a very clever Floridian who always gives me a laugh (you might say he’s like Dave Barry, but funny); the latter is written by Anthony’s dog Ducky, who speaks very movingly about how much he likes to chew things up. 

        Tangly Cottage Journal.  I have a lot of childhood memories invested in the Pacific coast of Washington state, where we used to take our seaside vacations.  This blog, by a couple of professional gardeners living in the small fishing town of Ilwaco, is a combination of prose and photos, very casual, but charming (and, like “Going Dutch,” with lots of good flower photography).  Even if you’ve never visited Ilwaco, this blog will remind you of your own favorite little beach town.

        Crypt of Wrestling.  Well, you knew I had unusual tastes, didn’t you?  This blog covers the waterfront of lowbrow 1960s/1970s culture: comic-book advertisements, movie posters, Rat Fink memorabilia, album covers.  It gives me an adrenaline injection of Early Space Age nostalgia every time I look at it. 



And hundreds of others.



You know who you are. 



Every good blog deserves favor


Apollonia’s younger son recently began a nice little blog, mostly about food, called  It is very well-written and entertaining, and I wouldn’t have expected anything else from any offspring of Apollonia.  (He wrote a very nice little piece about Apollonia on her birthday.)  Lioness that she is, she is very proud of him.  But she worries.  “I don’t know if anybody’s reading it,” she told me.  “I mean, I am.  But who else is?”

“That’s the way of the Internet,” I told her.  “Who knows?  He could get discovered.  He might catch on.  Look: I post mine on four different websites every day, and I’m lucky to get maybe fifty reads total.”

“Huh,” she said.

“Well, some days I catch fire,” I said.  “But most days are slow.  I don’t write like Dickens, after all.”

“You write like the dickens,” she said whimsically.  (When she was a girl, back before electricity and indoor plumbing, “the dickens” was a euphemism for Satan.)

Anyway.  Go read that young man’s blog.  You will pick up a few good recipes, which is not nothing; also, as I said, he writes well, which is not all that common these days.

And, as a side benefit, you will make Apollonia happy. 

And, believe me, that is no mean feat.


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