In a previous career, I was a professional cook. I’ve never cared for the title “Chef” even though I have supervised many restaurant kitchens. At the time, female kitchen leaders were anomalies. These days, anyone from an 8-year-old kid, to an elegant golden girl, could be poised in front of a television camera, formally being addressed as “Chef”. I find this title mostly pretentious. In my experience it took the roles of many, from the dishwasher to the food suppliers, to collectively drive and determine the ultimate client experience.
One of the menu items I was often responsible for was the soup of the day. If you aren’t already familiar, this soup usually makes its menu appearance primarily to absorb some of the food items with limited shelf life. I would stand in the cold cooler gathering up odd veggies that might have included zucchini, broccoli, carrots, whatever was available, then decide which ones would be best to comprise the base for my soup that day. I would often marry these items with other food remains that had been set aside from the shift before – those that couldn’t be counted in the next week’s food inventory. Hopefully, these remains added accents of texture and twist that would bring together the alchemy I was looking for. Outside the cooler, I might have added a chiffonade of fresh basil, sprigs of thyme, or any other multiple combinations of authentic spicery that would continue to bring out the aromatic qualities of the soup. I knew when I had hit the jackpot of popular taste consensus when I could announce to the wait staff before the end of service, that we had “sold out” of the soup that day.
Soup is a lot like a work culture. Every workplace is organically made up of the ingredients of people psychology, and skills. This includes both the personal and professional experiences, that each employee uniquely brings to the “table”. It is the challenge of most work cultures to mesh together each other’s “buffet of ingredients” to bring to fruition the objectives of the organization. In order to foster an environment of high-performing teams, management must first establish the type of soup that drives the culture of the organization. In turn, each team member has the inherent responsibility to know their place in the type of soup they work in. This includes co-creating a vision with each other, aligning project goals, and developing a strategy for working through challenges that will a drive consensus in decision making as a team. Personality quirks and all.
I’ve found especially in my current career of learning and professional development that, in today’s economy, it is imperative to the health and wealth of one’s career to bring the quality of self-awareness to “the soup” they are a part of.
As a new member of the Verity team, I am now learning the ingredients of “Verity’s soup” and how I too can contribute to the specific needs of our clients’ leadership cultures.
Stephanie Brown is a Customer Advocate at Verity International. She is a seasoned advisor supporting organizations and clients to reach their highest potential through their professional goals. Stephanie can be reached at email@example.com.