Russian clown Yuri Kuklachev has learned to lead cats.
At times leading can feel like herding cats and you might benefit by how Mr. Kuklachev has learned to work with cats. There are parallels between leading cats and strength based leadership.
In his Moscow Cats Theatre cats do handstands, crawl along high wires and balance on balls. According to Mr. Kuklachev, the secret of training cats is, “you can’t force cats to do anything.”
Are you trying to force the people you lead to do something?
According to Mr. Kuklachev, each cat likes to do his or her own trick. I find the cat and see what they like to do and use that in the show.
Does this not sound parallel to the principles of Marcus Buckingham and Peter Drucker on identifying and leveraging strengths in the workplace?
Yuri said that his cat-training methods can also apply to children: parents need to watch their children to see what they like to do and encourage this. Your child will end up doing whatever she or he enjoys doing.
How well do you watch the people you lead, see what they like to do, and encourage them on the path of strong intrinsic satisfaction, motivation, and performance?
Mr Kuklachev does most of his training and rehearsing at night. He said that this was not the best time for him but it was the best time for the cats.
Do you know the best time to draw upon the energy of the people you lead?
Mr. Kuklachev said he has learned much from his feline friends and stated that to be successful in this type of training you must really love animals.
Do you love the people you lead?
Yuri wrote a book called Lessons on Kindness. In the book he encouraged children to listen to their hearts. Yuri said his work with cats taught him — to hear silence, to see the invisible, and to see with one’s heart.
What are you learning from the people you lead?
I hope this profile on cat training taps into one of your nine lives of leadership. When your workplace has gone to the dogs you can apply these perspectives on “purrfect” leadership.