Leadership Lesson from Pasta Salad

I made a huge bowl of pasta salad for a group of my staff to come for dinner. It is the first pasta salad I have ever made by myself.  Those that know me, know that cooking is not my thing! However, I love my staff and wanted to do something special for them. The lesson I learned was to not add your cubed cheese in when the pasta is still warm. When I went to stir it, well, you can guess what happened. Thankfully, it was still salvageable.  I picked out the cheese that was too melted to the pasta and crossed my fingers no one would notice the rest.

Had my husband been home, he would have told me not to add the cheese until the pasta had cooled. However, I felt a sense of pride in making it without him standing over my shoulder for once.   I will never forget the lesson that I learned about the cheese and pasta. As a leader, we have to step back and sometimes let our people fail so that they can learn for themselves. Micromanaging never grows leaders; it only discourages people.

It turns out; no one did notice, or was to polite to say anything.  In a Forbes Magazine article; Good Employees Make Mistakes. Great Leaders Allow Them To, Amy Rees Anderson shares that the first step is to determine the areas of the business where a mistake could take place without causing too much damage.  This is not easy to do and requires a lot of discernment.  However, remember that if you want your people to grow, you must allow them to grow from their mistakes whenever possible.  I have no doubt that I will make future cooking mistakes, but my  pasta salad will not have any melted cheese chunks in it.

Norma Honeycutt, Executive Director