Think of the acronym “cake” to recognise the essential ingredients that are needed for an effective leader
When I asked nurse leaders, “what is it that makes you a leader?” they often did not identify with any specific characteristics, traits or styles that led to their careers. In most cases, their leadership experience had emerged from their life and work experiences both consciously and subconsciously. Without fail I used to hear, “I wish I’d had a recipe for success years ago.” Many nurses may not have been given a recipe for success.
The vital ingredients for the leadership cake
● Communication is a visible ingredient of the world’s greatest leaders; one common ingredient they share is that they are all exceptional communicators. They have the ability to convey a message and resonate and engage deeply with their audience consistently. Only 7% of the words you use are heard; 38% is your tone - the way you say things - and 55% is non-verbal (body language and gestures)
● Authenticity: one of the easiest ways to mess up your cake is by trying to sound or behave like somebody else or by mimicking a colleague’s leadership style. Here’s an equation to help you: (s + d) x B = A. If you Say and Do what you genuinely Believe, you are Authentic
● Knowledge: in meetings and boardrooms, you may have heard that “knowledge is power.” Well knowledge is only powerful if you or your businesses share that knowledge. Occasionally when somebody has more knowledge than others, it can create a sense of technical hierarchy. In every organisation, the broader the distribution of each member of staff’s knowledge, the better equipped the organisation can be at responding with agility to different situations and scenarios
● Empathy in your leadership cake acts as the eggs in regular cake. It binds the ingredients together and helps everything else stick together. A formal definition of empathy according to the Oxford dictionary is: “The power of identifying oneself mentally with (and so fully comprehending/understanding) a person or object of contemplation.”
Once you have your ingredients, be sure not to have a spoonful too much or too few to avoid overpowering your cake
As leaders, metaphorically, I want you to think of yourselves as a cake. Every cake needs flour, eggs, sugar and butter; otherwise it’s not a cake, right? Just as if you were baking a real cake, you can’t leave out the core ingredients in your “leadership cake”.
Because we are thwarted by lots of tasks, actions, people to manage and to lead as leaders, I want to break down the essential leadership ingredients:
● C - Communication;
● A - Authenticity;
● K - Knowledge;
● E - Empathy.
These are the essential ingredients, not the only ingredients; you can add others according to taste.
Steve Rush is an author and leadership expert. He is the CEO of Improov Consulting. Find out what other ingredients he thinks are essential in his book “Leadership Cake”. www.ImproovConsulting.com or www.leadershipcake.com