Dogs, donkeys and leadership lessons

Many years ago, I read a story.  It was a silly story, but one that left an impression on me.  I still remember it, although I have forgotten the author or where I read it.  It goes like this…

There was once a poor farmer who had a donkey and a dog.  One night, when the whole world was sleeping, a thief broke into the farmer’s hut. The farmer was fast asleep, but the donkey and the dog were awake.  The dog decided not to bark and teach the farmer a lesson, since he thought the farmer did not take good care of him.

The donkey, however, got worried, and told the dog that if he didn’t bark to warn the farmer, that he, the donkey, would have to warn the farmer himself. The dog did not change his mind, so the donkey started braying loudly. Hearing the donkey bray, the thief ran away.  The farmer woke up and started beating the donkey for braying in the middle of the night for no reason.  The donkey felt hurt and started thinking about looking for a new job.

[Lesson 1: Trust and respect donkeys]

The next morning, the farmer did some fact finding and figured out that a thief had broken in and that the donkey had brayed only to alert him about it.  Looking at the donkey’s willingness to go over and beyond the call of duty, he rewarded him with lots of hay and other perks, and made him his favorite pet.  The donkey was very happy and decided to stay around.

[Lesson 2: Recognize and reward donkeys]

Meanwhile, the dog’s life did not change much, except that now the donkey was motivated to do the dog’s duties in addition to his own.  Soon, the dog realized that the donkey was doing both of their jobs, so he felt freer to sleep, hang out, and be lazy. In their “annual appraisal” by the farmer, the dog barely managed to get a “satisfactory.”   The donkey, on the other hand, was rated a “star performer” and given the maximum raise.

Soon, however, the donkey found himself over-burdened with work and over-stressed with pressure.  In order for the unit to do well, he was always doing the job of two, so he quit.

[Lesson 3: In order to keep your donkeys, deal with the dogs]

I would love to hear what you think of the story and its lessons.  Do you think every organization has donkeys and dogs?  How would you have dealt with the situation if you were the farmer?

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4 thoughts on “Dogs, donkeys and leadership lessons

  1. im always the donkey! 😦 once im an entrepreneur myself i will remember to recognize and reward my aces however not exploit them or exhaust them. If the dogs are not able to develop after intensive training and other efforts have been made to help them reach their potential or to improve performance and other areas they may be good at have been explored and they stiillll dont wort out, I would higher other assistance and replace “dogs” with more competent and willing individuals if performance continues to decline. Perfecting the hiring and training process can reduce issues like these by instilling good team and professional ethics. also as the leader i would be sure my team feels most welcome to approach me for feedback and respect but not fear me like the farmer.

  2. Proud of a smart president like you! Proud UH student!
    Let’s get to the story now! No argument that the donkey did the right thing here (loyalty and responsibility).
    The dog, being kind of an opportunist, took advantage of the developing situation and decided to relax and take it easy. The dog knew it wouldn’t be praised for doing nothing, but it will remain in the farm and it will not lose basic privileges like food and shelter, neither will it be replaced with another dog! Oh well, who cares about the “star performer”, the dog thought!
    While the farmer was thinking he is being fair and generous to the donkey by giving the donkey perks and rewards, the farmer was actually paying the donkey just about enough (or not) for the duties the donkey performed ( the donkey’s and those of the dog).

    Chancellor Khator! If I wear the farmer, I would immediately replace the dog as it stop performing its duties

  3. (Allow me to assume that the dog and the donkey were males)
    No argument here the donkey did the right thing (loyalty & responsibility)
    Here’s how I look at it; the donkey was awarded after the first time he stepped up to the plate and saved the farm. But after the dog started giving up on his duties, while the donkey was picking them up, it was becoming more of the duties the donkey had to perform on daily basis, so it was no longer a one time thing, and therefore the donkey was not actually being rewarded, but he was getting paid just about enough for performing his and the dog’s duties simultaneously. (Eventually, the donkey got overwhelmed and quit)

    The dog on the other hand watched the donkey do his job for him one day after another, but he did not fear that he will be replaced, he knew he would always have his place in the farm, and since he did not care about the “star performer” praise, as long as food and shelter were there, he couldn’t care less, and he just relaxed.

    The farmer was under the wrong impression he was being fair to the donkey by rewarding him, while he was just only paying him fairly for the duties he performed, or not.

    If the scenarios were switched, and the donkey was the one being lazy, he would’ve been beaten everyday for not doing his job, but now that the dog is in this position, he was just being left alone. True that the dog was not praised or rewarded, but he was not being beaten and deprived from food or basic privileges. And again, the dog would totally settle for that! Again, who cares about a “star performer” evaluation?!

    If I were the farmer; the dog will be replaced with another dog who is willing to do the job, or even better… replace the dog with a donkey.

    Proud UH student! Go Coogs!!
    Amer Alnasrawi

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