Signature Dish

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Do you have a favorite dish? A special recipe or a favorite restaurant? … If you’re like most people, you have a favorite. It might be pasta, or steak, or seafood, or chicken, or salad. You probably enjoy your favorite dish at a “special” restaurant or perhaps your mom or wife prepares it for you at home. Regardless of your favorite dish, it’s likely that you also have a favorite cook that prepares it. It may even be their “signature” dish.

On a recent visit to my parents, my mom (ok, I call her “mother”) prepared one of her signature dishes – eggs benedict. Yes, she is a good cook and prepares many wonderful dishes, but everyone agrees that eggs benedict is one of her signature dishes. Her secret? The hollandaise sauce. It is so good that I could eat it on cardboard. She’s had countless people comment on her eggs benedict and, honestly, once you’ve had hers, you can’t eat them anywhere else. Trust me, I’ve tried. Many are good, but none are like hers. They’re the best!!! Neighbors, friends, family and other cooks/chefs all agree.

In fact, as you can see from the photo above, I definitely love these world-class eggs benedict. They are amazing!

As much as I love my mom, is she the only one with signature dishes? No. In fact, all great cooks have their own signature dishes. My wife and sister, also amazing cooks in their own right, have signature dishes of their own. My wife’s signature dishes include a pork tenderloin and stuffed poblano pepper combination. It is incredible!!! You definitely want to be invited to our home for that one!!! My sister bakes world-class cookies!!!

The same can be said for world-class leaders. Each of us have “signature” dishes as well. Things we’re known for doing extremely well. Things we do better than others. These dishes vary, based on the leader. The key is to know what your signature dishes are and to prepare them for others. Everyone loves my wife’s stuffed poblano peppers, my mom’s eggs benedict, my sister’s cookies.

What do people say about you as a leader? What do you do well, better than others? Do you know your signature dishes? If so, great. Prepare them for others and allow them to enjoy your expertise. If you don’t know what they are, ask – yourself and others. Obtain 360 degree feedback. Engage in self reflection. Look at how others respond to you in different situations. Why do others come to you for help?

Your signature dish may be public speaking, or one-on-one coaching, or vision casting, or mediating, or developing people. Please remember, your signature dish doesn’t have to be same as your peers. It may be unique to you or you may share it with a handful of others. However, if it’s truly a signature dish, it requires that you do it better than most. Let’s say the top 10%.

After years of leadership experience, 360 feedback, self reflection, and time with industrial/organizational psychologists, I know my three prime signature dishes are developing others, achieving sustainable results, and mediating multiple viewpoints (or cultures, or functional areas). These are my signature dishes. My eggs benedict. My stuffed poblano peppers. My cookies.

The question is what are your signature dishes? Do you know what they are? Are you still developing your expertise?

Knowing your strengths, your signature dishes, your areas of expertise is critical to world-class leadership. It is truly your unique “value-add.”

I’d love to hear what you do well, what you are great at doing, what expertise you have acquired. I’d also love to hear how you deployed or used this expertise to benefit your community, family, church, civic organization or place of employment.

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