We can learn thought-provoking lessons about leadership from the way we prepare food.
Too often, we make our meals in a hurry, then eat quickly before we’re off to another activity. But if you compare those quickly-made and quickly-eaten meals with something prepared over time, you’ll see there’s no comparison in quality and taste.
Leadership is like that too. Some organizations practice what I call Microwave Leadership, and some practice Crockpot Leadership.
Here’s what I mean.
Microwave Leadership is always in a hurry. The leaders desire to accomplish many things. Instead of a few goals, they set many. Everything is about speed and short-term results.
Goal setting in these organizations is a “microwave” process. Throw in an idea, and—voila!—out comes the new “flavor of the month.” The result causes the entire team to roll their eyes.
Microwave Organizations spend minimal time discussing how to improve on a product or process. The organization itself will repeat things because it can do it quickly.
When the leaders open up the floor for dialogue, no one wants to offer a suggestion that would potentially “hold up” or “hold back” progress—at least from their supervisor’s point of view.
New leaders don’t come from within the organization. They only come from the outside because of the high turnover and burnout rate. The staff is always frustrated, unable to do their best work.
If you were to eavesdrop on a meeting run by a Microwave Leader, you’d probably hear that person asking these questions:
- “But will it work?”
- “Is there a shortcut?”
- Or, “How much can we save?”
Crockpot Leadership is the opposite of Microwave Leadership. It’s about the final product—about quality. Leadership and staff understand that things take time, but in taking time, the product is best.
Speed is critical too, but the organizational approach matches the phrase legendary basketball coach John Wooden frequently used: “Be quick, but don’t hurry.”
Coach Wooden further explained what he meant saying things like:
- “You have to be quick to do it or you might not get to do it at all.”
- “Don’t hurry. You make mistakes when you hurry.”
- “I want quickness under control. Otherwise, you’ll have activity without achievement.”
Speed without achievement is useless.
If you were to eavesdrop on a meeting run by a Crockpot Leader, you’d probably hear questions like:
- “How can we make it better for the customer?”
- “Can we get it done without sacrificing quality?”
- “Are there reasons we shouldn’t do this?”
As King Solomon wrote, “If you think you know it all, you’re a fool for sure; real survivors learn wisdom from others” (Proverbs 28:26, MSG).
Leadership development is a hallmark of a Crockpot Leadership organization. They know when they develop their own leaders and assure those people are ready for increased responsibilities, they’ll do a better job maintaining their culture.
In the Bible, Moses’s Crockpot Leadership style led to the development of another great leader:
Joshua son of Nun was filled with wisdom, because Moses had appointed him to be his successor. The people of Israel obeyed Joshua and kept the commands that the Lord had given them through Moses. Deuteronomy 34:9 (GNT)
In an organization run by Crockpot Leadership, turnover is low and organizational pride is high. Staff believes they can do their best work. I don’t know about your organization’s leadership style, but I always value those who utilize Crockpot Leadership.
And, in the kitchen, I enjoy a meal that takes time to prepare. Then, I want to savor every bite.