Fourth Age Communiqué - Leadership for the rest of us

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Things we can all learn from Top Chef

Top Chef is a popular American television show that pits chefs against one another in a half Survivor, half American Idol model. Of course, the single biggest tease of any cooking show is that we have to trust people we don't know to tell us what food tastes like that we will, most likely, never experience for ourselves.

  • Remember your purpose

    Candidates are judged on their cooking, just like American Idol candidates are judged on their singing. So if you are not competent with the basic requirements, you will not excel.
  • You are judged on the how as much as the what

    The qualitative is at least as important as the quantitative. While Top Chef is a cooking competition, it is also, at its core, a change leadership journey. Executive chefs bear a higher burden of responsibility than the rest of the cooking team - or, leadership matters.
  • You may get the job done, but how you get there matters

    Own your missteps; throwing people under the bus for the sake of expedience will come back on you. In whatever your community of practice, you are bound to re-encounter those with whom you collaborated. If you leave a trail of bodies in your wake, you will ultimately work alone.
  • Age and experience is a great leveler

    Wisdom comes with trials and hard knocks. Competitors on Top Chef Master dramatically eclipse those on Top Chef for professionalism and maturity. There is a big difference between 10 years of experience built on learning from your mistakes and one year of experience repeated 10 times.
  • Nice guys can finish first

    Everyone loves a winner; we love a winner more when they are humble and generous. Whether you win or lose, people will remember how you played the game.


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