Perfect Pancakes & Leadership

How could anyone ever correlate making Perfect Pancakes and Leadership? I have used this metaphor many times over the last couple years, especially when a leader may need to practice their key messages, or talk through key topics prior to having a critical conversation, or prep before they introduce a new product launch.

This Sunday morning, I whipped up some pancake batter and grabbed the Nutella spread from the kitchen cupboard. My mouth was salivating, thinking back just one year ago as we enjoyed our time in Cantania, Sicily, Italy, savoring all kinds of chocolate croissants, espresso and cappuccino. However, my first two pancakes didn’t turn out so well. Why did that happen, when I had such a great visualization going on in my head?

Because, I hadn’t made pancakes in a while. With no recent practice, I burnt the pancakes because the temperature in the pan was just too hot. Yes, I over cooked those first two pancakes. Torched them! The third and fourth pancakes turned out much better, and I quickly spread the Nutella on them and devoured them. And I am encouraged and now ready to make even more pancakes on New Years Eve and New Year Day mornings.

In our coaching work, I continue to be amazed at how some colleagues hardly practice for those huge, critical conversations, or for that presentation to the key prospect that might help make your yearend numbers look brilliant, or on how to deliver a new message or product to current clientele. As a former college athlete, I recommend to practice. In fact, I recommend it too frequently. Too many colleagues just are not practicing, and so when they don’t get the results they intended, they are frustrated and surprised. As a coach, I recommend practicing your messaging in your car, in front of a mirror, on a walk with a trusted mentor, and even with your spouse or partner.

Let’s don’t over-complicate how to execute better as a leader. Most leaders are former athletes. Do what you used to do, all the time: Practice! When on a team, the coach held more practices than games you played. Many more practices than games. Athletes become good because they learn how to execute under pressure due to their countless hours of practice, and yes, winning some games along the way.

As a leader, are you practicing? Are you learning from other leaders? Are you practicing on simplifying your messaging with great clarity? Are you taking time to develop personnel? Are you prepping for those critical conversations that can change the trajectory of you and your colleague’s professional relationship? Like making the perfect pancake, it takes a few before the good pancakes are eaten. Practice makes better pancakes, and it makes better leaders, too. Practice!

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