Baking Recipe For Success: Does Your Leadership Cake Have These 4 Ingredients?

Baking a cake and building a business are more similar than one might initially think; In order for either of these processes to be successful, there needs to be a deliberate and well-balanced combination of the key ingredients. Just as most chocolate cakes need flour, cocoa, eggs, and sugar, baking a leadership cake also requires some fundamental ingredients.

Rather than starting with a 350ª preheated oven and a well-greased pan, your prep work should include establishing a foundation of teamwork, a culture of open-mindedness, and a strong work ethic. These are the pillars upon which you will build your business.

In addition to the prep work and ingredients, the steps in the processes matter. If you take a cake out of the oven before it is ready, the batter will remain raw and the cake unfinished, rendering it inedible. Similarly, in the world of business, it often takes time and patience for a company to achieve long-term success.

In both instances, rushing the process can lead to ruining the result. Ultimately, before you start baking your leadership cake, you need to be aware of the prep steps and baking time it’ll take before the cake is ready. Once the prep work is done, it’s time to start putting your ingredients in the bowl. Here’s what you need:

1. Vision

This is the first ingredient you need to put in the bowl. Vision is necessary to establish what exactly the objective will be. Figuring out the goal is the first step to achieving it. Through vision, a leader can encourage their team to be goal-oriented in their professional endeavors. Moreover, vision allows leaders to create and effectuate plans while practicing functional time management.

Vision gives people something to work towards, and allows for the possibility of a plan. As a result, it leads to more effective communication, which reduces ambiguity while simultaneously increasing employees’ understanding of expectations and accountability. Vision can also elevate levels of professionalism and project follow-through, which are the icing on top of a good leadership cake.

2. Motivation

Effective leaders are both motivating and motivated. Motivation is one of the most important ingredients, and if the cake lacks even a little bit, it won’t be any good. Motivated leaders know that the key to mentoring is through example. In other words, if you want your team to be driven and diligent, you must first exhibit these behaviors yourself. It’s important to be motivated because it shows your team what motivation should look like, and it shows you believe in the project as well. If their leader does not appear to be motivated, why should they be? A motivated leader reinforces a strong work ethic by demonstrating it themselves.

Moreover, the best leaders know that while example is one of the most effective tactics for breeding motivation, often times it just isn’t enough. They don’t abandon this strategy; instead, they up the ante. One way of revamping motivation strategies is through incentivization. Creating an incentive for your team to be motivated can be crucial in ensuring the overall success of your company. There are many ways of generating incentives, and believe it or not, the process can actually be fun.

For instance, creating a friendly, work-related competition with a prize for the winners–  bonuses, paid travel trip, employee of the month awards, gift cards, promotions, sponsored coaching andcertifications or even just some old-school validation–can be a powerful tool to increase motivation. Motivation is a catalyst for inspiring optimism and team-building. A motivated and positive team is a productive one.

3. Creativity

It won’t matter much if you have both vision and motivation in your leadership cake when everyone else has those same ingredients too. They’re necessary, but they don’t set you apart from the competition. That’s where creativity comes in.

Creativity breeds innovation. It is through creativity that new ideas are born. Creativity can provide a competitive advantage by demonstrating a uniqueness in your approaches and methods, setting you apart from others in the industry. A leadership cake needs creativity to avoid tasting bland. One tip for amplifying creativity is to hire based on culture add rather than culture fit, leading to a broader exchange of ideas and a diversified workplace.

Creativity is necessary to come up with alternatives if any part of the original plan fails. The strongest leaders are those who are able to adapt, displaying cognitive flexibility and leading in spite of turbulent times.

4. Empathy

Last but certainly not least, the final ingredient in this recipe for success is empathy. Not only does empathy help to foster integrity in the workplace, but it also results in healthy and positive relationships among the team as well as between an employer and his or her employees.

An empathetic leader is open to the team’s feedback and concerns, reinforcing the pillar of an open-minded culture. Empathetic leaders understand the importance of transparency and know to put themselves in their employees’ shoes before making any major decisions that could affect the work environment or those who are a part of it. Empathy can be used as a unifying force. It is a tool that empowers and promotes mutual respect.

When it comes down to it, the recipe for success can vary slightly from organization to organization, but your leadership cake should always contain the four ingredients mentioned. The best bakers and business owners know to practice patience, and always keep in mind the basic steps and ingredients of their recipes and strategies, even if they make some minor adjustments from time to time.

Visit our blog to read about the DNA of extraordinary leaders and learn how you can perfect your own recipe for success to transform your organization.

By Fernando Ortiz-Barbachano

A photo of Fernando Ortiz-Barbachano

President and CEO of Barbachano International (BIP), the Human Capital Solutions leader in Mexico, Latin America, and the USA, offering high-impact executive search, executive coaching, and outplacement.

At Barbachano International, we understand the importance of recruiting and the return on investment that top talent can deliver for you. With 27 years in the industry, we know firsthand how imperative it is for an organization to have the right people to achieve its business objectives. We help you avoid painful hiring mistakes and reduce turnover by identifying top performers for your team that result in long-term success.

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