Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Passion poutine: the fries, curds and gravy of leadership.

In honour of the grand opening of Smoke's Poutinerie in Waterloo, I decided to delve a little deeper into what makes this food so delightful ... and why throngs of people young and old are taking the plunge into this world of savoury lunchtime goodness and afternoon office-comas.

What is so great about poutine? And what does it have to do with effective leadership? (Keep in mind that I'm talking about REAL poutine, not the mushy brown slop that they serve you at fast food joins ... yeah Burger King, I'm talkin' to YOU). 

Let's eat ...

The fries: Fresh, but familiar. Crisp, yet soft on the inside. Warm, but not so hot that they disintegrate the very structure of your mouth... well, at least if you're patient. Being an effective leader is not so different from this sturdy vehicle that escorts curds and gravy to the exclusive parties hosted by our post-bar taste buds.

As a leader, you must bring forth fresh and new ideas ... yet ensure that these ideas don't rock the boat so much that they cause fear and distrust. You must also have a tough, crisp exterior when needed, but a soft, compassionate heart to back it up. And lastly, you must be just the right temperature to keep your team close without pushing them away.

Now, what about the toppings?

The curds: Unique, but strong. An acquired taste, but widely loved. Different, yet familiar.

As a leader, being different is essential ... but you must delicately walk the line between being so unique that you're one double-joint away from Cirque de Soleil and being so generic that people mistake you for Keanu Reeves. Cheese curds are different, but we can still identify with them as a unique subset of the familiar, wonderful world of dairy. Be unique, blaze your own trail ... just be sure to blaze one that others can also follow.

And lastly ...

The gravy: The pièce de résistance (yes, I still remember that ALT+130 makes a french accent). Rich, smooth, creamy. The delicate glue that holds the dish together. Too much of it, and you end up with chunky soup that is the temperature of the sun. Not enough of it, and the cheese curds don't warm up, leaving you with cold, squeaky cheese and exposed fries.

As a leader, your actions and words are the glue that holds the team together. You must work to bind people to each other in a meaningful way, all while walking the tight rope between too much and too little. If you provide too much direction, you will drench individuality and create a soupy mess of "yes" people. But, if you provide too little direction you will have a cardboard container full of people that don't mesh and can't deliver a cohesive, well-balanced product.

As you can see, the poutine of leadership is a very delicate mix of tough and soft, unique yet familiar and just enough direction to bring it all together into a delectable finished product that caters to the masses.

So, take a minute to identify the components of your passion poutine as a leader and think about how you can put a dish on the table that delights even the toughest of critics.

"There is no passion to be found in playing small - in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living" - Nelson Mandela

No comments:

Post a Comment