To lead, one must know oneself

LeadershipPenguinsTo improve one’s leadership and management skills, it is helpful to know what ones’ strengths and weaknesses are. There are various self assessment tests available on the internet. Once such assessment is the United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service’s, “Leadership Assessment Instrument”. My results on the assessment was as follows:  Focused Drive, 29; Emotional Intelligence 30; Building Trust / Enabling Others, 31; Conceptual Thinking, 33; and Systems Thinking, 32. Placing the scores on their graph showed them to be very consistent with each other. My scores of 30 and above indicated I had “relative strength” in each of those areas. Scores of 24 or below would have shown a possible development area, scores lower than 18 were “development areas” and scores of 12 or lower show “possible blocks.”

I knew I would score well on the assessment but it was surprising that the graph showed a fairly straight line across the five categories.  However, with further introspection, I realized that I have spent a lot of time developing my leadership skills from a young age starting in Boy Scouts of America as an Eagle Scout; to coaching fellow high school wrestlers; teaching federal officers in topics such as Officer Safety and Self Defense, Gang Identification, Sex Offender Management; to training, leading and managing employees in my business. As a professional dog trainer, I am a very positive and balanced trainer.  Whether it is training dogs, managing people, or holding personal beliefs, I strive to have a balanced outlook and practice.

Taking this assessment brought back memories of taking another assessment during my freshman year in college.  My colleague was taking an Abnormal Psychology class and the assessment he asked me to take contained 500 multiple choice questions. I do not recall the stated intent of the assessment  but the result was that it measured how consistently someone answered the questions that were asked many times but in different ways. Surprisingly to him, my consistency score was 100 percent.  He joked that 100 percent consistent was “abnormal.”  However, since a young age I have been taught to be consistent in my actions and thoughts.

Being consistent is usually what differentiates dog trainers and dog owners. Dogs learn best and thrive when the expectations are consistent.  It makes learning fun and therefore, rewarding. I am very consistent when training dogs and I help my students become more consistent as well. So based on my upbringing and the earlier assessment test, it is not surprising that the five categories are in balance with each other, almost in a straight line.

You can find the  “Leadership Assessment Instrument” by clicking on the following link: To learn more about becoming a dog trainer and how leadership and management skills are crucial to have as a business owner, contact Michael Burkey, President of Michigan Dog Training LLC in Plymouth, Michigan or call 734-634-4152.

About Michael Burkey

Michael Burkey is a professional dog trainer, behaviorist and owner of, a highly successful dog training company whose aim is to promote peaceful relationships between pets and families. Additionally, he is an expert trial witness, certified Canine Good Citizen (CGC) evaluator for the American Kennel Club (AKC), former Police K9 Handler, Search and Rescue (SAR) K9 Training Director and SAR K9 Handler, obedience and rally competitor and social worker. Dog training is a complex science and art requiring knowledge of behavioral science and learning. You can rely on Michael's experience, teaching methods, and integrity. He can be contacted at or 734-634-4152.
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