In leadership you are never done


Alain Passard’s restaurant, L’Arpège,has three Michelin stars. The three Michelin stars award is defined as “Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey.” He was originally awarded three Michelin stars in 1996. In 2001 he completely changed the restaurant cuisine to feature vegetables as the centrepiece, a bold move in the traditional meat eating culture of France. But he still retained his three Michelin star status.

He could have easily rested on his laurels. But he was not satisfied with the comfort of simply repeating a successful formula. In the great Netflix series, Chef’s Table, he talks about cooking without recipes, “Next year I don’t want to make the same recipes I did last year. When you close your eyes at night what’s important? You’ve spent the day taking risks. You made some people very happy.”

Alain Passard Getty Images

How often do we harbour the illusion that one-day we will arrive at some equivalent of leadership nirvana, where we keep repeating a tried and proven successful formula? But even if that was possible, the market could be disrupted and we need a new strategy. We could get a new job, or a different boss, or key team members depart and we have to re-establish ourselves. All kinds of things could change around us that require us to adapt.

As a game-changing leader, you are continually developing yourself to meet the latest challenge.

McKinsey research suggests that half of all efforts to transform organisational performance fail either because senior managers don’t act as role models for change or because people in the organisation defend the status quo.

Our experience with clients is similar. You cannot expect your team members to step up their leadership unless you are a demonstration of what you are expecting.

One place to start is to seek feedback. Not just through the annual 360-degree feedback process, but also via more regular feedback about what we are doing well that could be improved. For example, people who worked with former global CEO and now Executive Chairman of Cisco, John Chambers, will tell you that he was constantly asking what are three things he could do better?

You have to be comfortable in your own skin to seek that kind of feedback. You have to be inspired and fulfilled by playing a game where you are never done.

Where could you seek feedback on what you could do to improve your leadership?

Best regards, Brian

PS: Contact us for a free 30 minute leadership diagnostic.