I learned 3 important things about leadership from our crock pot.
1. We need the right ingredients. If we’re going to make vegetable soup, we need vegetables. In leadership terms, Jim Collins tells us to “get the right people on the bus.” Accountants have many skills, but a strategic planning meeting with only accountants in the room will usually not generate a well-balanced strategic plan. “Right ingredients” also requires the right amount of each ingredient. When making chocolate chip cookies, too much salt will ruin the cookies. (Of course, extra chocolate chips will only make them better!) Teams need the right mix of the right people.
2. We need to omit ingredients that are not in the recipe. Clams are great in clam chowder, but not welcome in a beef stew. In leadership terms, we need to insure that a team is free of people who will neutralize or destroy it from within.
3. Finally, and possibly most important, we need to define the process and then trust it. If we lift the lid on a crock pot every 10 minutes to see how it’s doing, we ruin the meal by releasing heat such that it will not cook properly. In leadership, we provide the resources the team needs, and then trust them to do their work within the prescribed process. Constantly looking over their shoulders, second-guessing their decisions (or lack thereof), or otherwise micro-managing is like lifting the lid off a crock pot – it guarantees that the result will not be what we want.
I hope you enjoy your holiday meals. And remember, leave the lid on the crock pot until the recipe says the meal is cooked!