Long before I ever thought about training people and coaching executives and managers I wanted to be a dog trainer. We got our first family dog when I was about one year old. An Irish Setter named Shamrock that my dad trained. Shammy was to be my companion for the next 14 years. When I decided later in my youth that I wanted to train police dogs I was given the book, ”Guard Dog Training” by William R. Koehler. Bill Koehler was to become my mentor in animal training and, as it turns out, in people training as well. He had been the chief trainer for the US Army, Walt Disney Studios and the Orange County Dog Club, the largest dog club in the world. Pretty good credentials for a dog trainer. The most memorable quote from him to this day is:
“You make much faster progress by rewarding the behavior you want, rather than correcting the behavior you don’t want.” William. R. Koehler.
That doesn’t suggest that we never correct a dog it suggested that we will have better results if we focus on what they are doing correctly rather than focusing only on what they are not doing correctly. Bill even suggested a good praise to correction ration is 10:1 (10 to 1). Praise the dog for doing the right thing 10 times more than you correct the dog for not doing the right thing. I didn’t know at the time how significant those two thoughts would become in today’s world of leadership and in building high performing teams and best places to work environments.