#1 Leadership Lesson from Hank

Today’s leadership kick: Own your presence

Some of you know we made the difficult choice to put Hank, our 90 lb., 15 year-old Australian Labradoodle down recently. Um hello, that was excruciating – but the right thing to do.

I’ve been reminded that grief is grief – a human or a pet – one minute I feel at peace and the next I feel a gaping hole in my heart.

From the moment we brought Hank home, he began teaching me one of the greatest lessons about leadership.


Hank was a BIG dog, with big paws. Albiet clumsy, and certainly not the fastest pup in the pack during his glory days. But what he lacked in coordination and speed, he made up for in presence. He was regal. Strong. Yet gentle, and approachable (even the non-dog lovers would ask to pet him!)

Over the years, I watched Hank command attention wherever he went. Literally everywhere. He’s in more random people’s photos that I could even count.

And he did it in the most gentle way. No obnoxious barking, or bickering with other dogs or attention seeking behavior.

If he was on a walk, he would saunter down the street and wouldn’t even blink if another dog nipped at him. If he wanted a human’s attention, he would gently lean into the person nearest to him as if they were old friends.

In a world where presence often takes the shape of being the extrovert, or the biggest sharer on social media, I found myself dimming my light because of what I thought presence had to look like.

Can you relate?

Hank in his very methodical, consistent way continued to remind me that presence can look entirely different than how it’s portrayed in the world.

He showed me that strength and courage can co-exist with softness, inner confidence and trust. 

Hank lived by ‘the more the merrier’ even if it meant bringing cats into our house or friends’ dogs. He was so comfortable with who he was, it didn’t matter if others were introduced into the mix thus needing attention.

He was living proof that owning your presence didn’t mean that someone else couldn’t shine. 


So in your leadership this week — could you lean into your presence without dimming your light?

Brene Brown said it best. Strong back, wild front, brave heart.”  That was Hank 100%.


Sarah Gibbons signature