Thanksgiving Leadership – Turkey or Table?

Thanksgiving Dinner, Falmouth, Maine, USA 2008

Image via Wikipedia

Do you focus more on the turkey or the table on which it is served?  In other words, in your leadership role, do you focus more on the outcome or on the environment surrounding it?

This metaphor isn’t mine – it comes from long time friend John Sedgwick.  “What good is it,” he once said, “to spend all your energy on the turkey preparation without paying attention to the table it is being served upon? For all the effort put into making sure the turkey is perfect, doesn’t it also make sense to ensure the table is clear, clean and set for the sumptuous meal?”

Turkey and Table in Business

In business settings the turkey can represent the final product; the table, the people involved in producing it.

John Stacey, in Managing the Unknowable (1992) lists four key  principles for navigating through uncertainty.

  1. Visionary CEO supported by a cohesive management team.
  2. Organizational alignment in a common and unified culture.
  3. Focus on the bottom line.
  4. Identification of what the organization does well, and deliver what its customers want, doing it better than the competition.

“These four principles, when applied in a consistent and balanced manner… lead a firm to success.  Success, in this view is quite clearly a state of equilibrium characterized by harmony, discipline, regularity, predictability, and adaptation….It suggests being “in control,” avoiding surprises, knowing where you are going, reducing risks, and damping out differences.  Belief that an organization is moving toward stable equilibrium reduces anxiety levels for everyone concerned.” (p.2)

Self-Reflection Questions

Yup, turkey and table. What might you do to achieve balance in your leadership role?

  • How’s your turkey?
  • How’s your table?
  • What improvements, modifications, and/or changes can you make?

New ideas and new decisions create new futures.

Happy Thanksgiving my American friends.

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