A Thanksgiving Recipe for Leadership Success

November 21, 2022 Randy Conley

The Thanksgiving Day meal—it’s central to the celebration of the holiday, isn’t it?

In the best of times, we enjoy a delicious meal that’s been carefully prepared by loving hands. We embrace in the fellowship of family and friends and engage in other traditions that are meaningful to those involved (namely, football!).

But let’s be clear—the meal is the star of the show!

I’ve been thinking that there are a lot of similarities between being a successful leader and cooking up a fine Thanksgiving meal.

Both require essential ingredients combined in just the right proportions.

Both take time to prepare and cook; you can’t rush the process.

Both are served for the benefit of others.

And both have the potential to leave a profound, lasting effect on those who partake. Sometimes the lasting impression is one of delight, joy, and satisfaction. Other times the result is indigestion.

Whether you want to make a great meal—or be a great leader—it’s helpful to have a recipe to follow. Here’s a solid recipe you can depend on for leadership success:

Prep Time:  Depends on the individual

Temperature and Cook Time:  Low and slow

Servings:  Enough for everyone you encounter

Main Ingredients:

  • Trust
  • Humility
  • Communication
  • Empathy
  • Authenticity
  • Developing others
  • Flexibility
  • Love

Optional Ingredients: There is an almost limitless amount of additional ingredients you can add to flavor your leadership according to your skills, abilities, and specific situation. Be creative!


Step 1: Start with heaping amounts of trust. Trust is the foundation upon which your leadership rests, so you can never add too much to your recipe. Trust is the magic ingredient for leadership success. It acts as both the binding agent that holds your leadership together and the lubricant that allows all the other ingredients to interact successfully. Add equal parts of the four components of trust: competence, integrity, connectedness, and reliability. When you think you’ve added enough trust, add a dash more!

Step 2: Thoroughly marinate your leadership in humility. Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it’s just thinking about yourself less. If you don’t mix in enough humility, ego will take root and ruin your recipe. Sift out any elements of fear, self-doubt, or false pride. Those are all ways ego tries to counteract humility. Leadership soaked in humility shows others you believe we is more important and powerful than me—and that results in lasting success.

Step 3: Frequently stir in communication throughout the cooking process. The most effective leaders are excellent communicators. They frequently share information in candid, caring, and transparent ways. They trust their people with important information so that they are equipped to make good decisions. Don’t think you have to be a charismatic speaker or a brilliant writer to communicate effectively. Great communicators get their point across in ways that are natural and authentic to themselves, not by trying to be someone they aren’t.

Step 4: Layer in generous quantities of empathy and authenticity to solidify your leadership approach. These two ingredients are important aspects of being an emotionally intelligent leader. Empathy toward others demonstrates you are sensitive to their emotional states, while being authentic shows you have a clear and realistic understanding of your own strengths and weaknesses as a leader. People respond best to leaders who are sincere and genuine; they can spot a phony when they see one.

Step 5: Blend a focus on developing others with flexing your leadership style to achieve the best leadership outcomes. A key priority for leaders is to develop the competence and commitment of their team members so that, over time, they become less dependent on the leader for direction and support and more self-reliant as a peak performer. Leaders need to take a situational approach to leading by adjusting their styles to the development needs of their team members.

Step 6: Sprinkle love throughout your leadership journey. It’s the secret ingredient of leadership success most people overlook. Love is the four-letter word that many leaders are afraid to talk about at work for fear of being labeled as a soft or weak person. That couldn’t be further from the truth! People want to know their leaders care about them as individuals—human beings with hopes, fears, and dreams. Leaders who believe people should leave their personal lives at home are deceiving themselves. The best leaders embrace managing the whole person at work. As a result, the trust and loyalty they earn from their team members is out of this world.

Step 7: Finally, slow-cook your leadership over a lifetime of experiences. The truth is, you never really finish developing your leadership approach. You encounter new experiences that cause you to adjust your recipe, constantly adding or subtracting ingredients in a never-ending quest to become the best leader you can be.

Serve your leadership warm and enjoy the results!

Here at Blanchard, we are grateful for all our blessings. Chief among them is having the opportunity to serve our wonderful clients and the people in our communities. As a gift to you, we’ve included our new Blanchard Cooks cookbook, a collection of tasty dishes from our own associates. We hope you enjoy them during this season of giving thanks!

About the Author

Randy Conley

Randy Conley is the Vice President & Trust Practice Leader for Blanchard®. He is coauthor of Blanchard’s Building Trust training program and works with organizations around the globe, helping them build trust in the workplace. In 2022, Randy and Ken Blanchard coauthored Simple Truths of Leadership: 52 Ways to Be a Servant Leader and Build Trust, and most recently, Simple Truths of Leadership Playbook: A 52-Week Game Plan for Becoming a Trusted Servant Leader.

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