Food Glorious Food – The Most Underrated Of All Leadership Tools

With the holidays over, I find myself thinking about food.

Family Dinners.

Staff parties.

And the many times that food contributed to my success as a Leader.

Leaders Eat Last

This phrase was recently made famous as a Simon Sinek book title.

But it isn’t a new concept; leaders eating last has been the standard of successful armies for eons.

It is when the most senior leaders of a unit only eat last when all of the privates and corporal have eaten.

Leaders eating last accomplishes two crucial leadership functions:

  1. it is a physical expression of servant leadership., in that leaders care that the troops have eaten.
  2. It allows the leader to test and correct the supply chain. Is the food hot, healthy and is there enough?

Better you understand there is a problem than the lowest paid or ranking person in your company does.

Powerful Teams Eat Together

Several times in my career I have taken over teams broken by lousy leadership.

Part of my recipe to mend those broken teams is food.

I invite people to lunches.

Brought everyone together to eat meals together in the lunchroom.

Initiated pot-lucks and, I would attend as many meals and coffee breaks as I could.

Food levelled the power differentials, busted through silos & barriers and encouraged laughter.

People opened up about their work, their families and what was on their mind.

As their leader, I could then quietly address the work issues I heard, show that I cared by asking about their families and noted what was bothering them.

More importantly, people became more than workmates or coworkers; they became team members.

The Soldier’s Christmas Dinner

The Soldier’s Christmas Dinner is a tradition where the soldiers are given the day off from their duties.

This is made possible because the officers and sergeants cover their duties and serve dinner.

It goes back thousands of years and is still in practice to this very day.

It is a simple, thoughtful thank you and an appreciation for past and future service.

It recognizes that without soldiers there would be no need for officers and sergeants.

Final Thoughts For The Holidays

Share a meal with your team.

Try to give as many of your people time off over the holidays.

But inevitably someone will still have to work … so, call or visit each office between Christmas and New Years to tell those who are working that you appreciate their duty & service and wish them the best.

This season be thankful for your people.

You have a job because they are good at theirs.