by Arielle Essex

Cat and dog roles in business

Both cat and dog styles of behaviour have distinct roles to play throughout an organisation. By understanding where each type performs best, you can place people in suitable positions and understand what causes problems. It will also become clear what kind of coaching would be helpful.

Cats who reach high levels in an organisation may need to develop their approachable dog qualities in order to communicate better, win support, motivate their teams and have more influence. Dogs who get promoted to high levels may need to learn how to exude more credibility, gravitas, set clear objectives, handle big cats and wield power with less emotion.

The path to developing charisma will vary according to the starting point. The cat (top right) must learn approachability while the dog needs to learn credibility.

Charisma is a blend of dog and cat

Since dogs are already good at people skills, they don’t need training in rapport as much as they need training in how to manage cats. Because dogs secretly wish everyone could get along and be happy, they hope that cats will change and start behaving ‘normally’, like dogs: friendly, open, chatty, co-operative and, above all, loyal, team players. (This will never happen.) Dogs feel wary of cats because they seem so cold, unpredictable, driven and ambitious. Dogs need to learn how to understand the dynamics of power and how to take up leadership positions in a group.

If animals could speak, the dog would be a blundering outspoken fellow, but the cat would have the rare grace of never saying a word too much.

Mark Twain

Cats may lack people skills, so they benefit greatly from learning rapport techniques as well as understanding and appreciating the qualities that dogs have to offer. Cats rely on the competence of dogs in the organisation and need to know how to foster them. Although they may be comfortable with power, they may lack the ability to relate well to their teams. They need to develop more charismatic skill in order to motivate, influence and win support. Being able to turn on the charm will enhance, balance and bring warmth to their leadership qualities.

Both cats and dogs believe in ‘relationship’ as the key to success. However, dogs define relationship as a personal model, while cats think of it as a business model. Looking over the contrasted qualities below, it will be clear that some departments will naturally attract more cats, while others will appeal to dogs.

When seeking to build rapport, it will be essential to appeal to these different requirements, preferences and values. These key differences govern all types of interactions. No one can afford to ignore these. By appealing to, and satisfying, the values inherent in these criteria, you can achieve charismatic levels of rapport.

Below is a chart to clearly depict the differences.

DOG: personal model CAT: business model
  • Egalitarian
  • Personal relationships
  • Rapport
  • Friendship
  • Trust
  • Internal focus
  • Acts based on feelings
  • Wants to be liked
  • Warmth
  • Seeks comfort
  • Empathy offered
  • Emotional support
  • Likes to be asked favours
  • Compromising
  • Counselling
  • Assumptions – interpretations
  • Unstructured
  • Psychological considerations
  • Hierarchical
  • Clear roles and functions
  • Roles
  • Leadership
  • Tasks/clear expectations
  • External focus
  • Acts based on verifiable data
  • Wants to be respected
  • Working together
  • Seeks fairness/accountability
  • Feedback given
  • Professional assistance
  • Demand their accountability
  • Clear outcomes are held stable
  • Coaching
  • Assumptions – facts and data
  • Structured
  • Professional considerations
A dog talks about the need for a relationship with employees and subordinates, conjuring up images of ‘rapport’ and ‘closeness’. A cat envisions that the term ‘relationship’ means working together and being aligned.