I’m a huge meat eater. Beef, pork, chicken, seafood… I love it all! But I also enjoy a good salad to accompany my carnivorous tendencies! Notice I said a “good salad”. If the lonely salad bowl has some chopped lettuce, a couple of cherry tomatoes and a few croutons, I think I’ll pass. If I’m replacing my small stomach storage space of some delicious protein with herbivore food, then it needs to be worthy! (I had a gastric sleeve a few years ago, so it limits how much I can eat!)

I think the same can be said about what each of us brings “to the table” for the teams we serve. Are we boring? Are we bland? Is there nothing about us that sets us apart from the rest of the people at the table, in the restaurant, or for that matter, then entire food chain? What about you makes your input, your perspective and your presence valuable? Maybe you need to consider upping your own “salad game”!

Why Just Go With One Head?

I know most people tend to be satisfied with a simple Iceberg lettuce salad. It’s OK, but what about a blend, adding some fresh Arugula or Romaine lettuce to the mix? Life and business can become predictable and even stale when we bring the same basic features to the table over and over again. For instance, people tend to expect those they work with to follow through on what they commit to do. Iceberg lettuce. But what if we moved beyond that, and attempted to answer questions that haven’t been asked yet, or prepare answers for problems they might not have foreseen? Now that’s a nice blend!

Spice It Up Baby!

If I’m going to have a salad that I love, it’s going to include some pepperoncini peppers, or better yet, some wonderful sweet cherry peppers! Don’t get me started on sweet purple onions either, I love those things! Peppers & onions bring that little bit of ZING to an otherwise dull or listless salad! That sweet or acidic bit of the pepper or onion can bring our taste buds alive! Just like the peppers and onions, sometimes we need to be that person on the team that brings the fire, the pizzazz, the unexpected bite to the project or meeting! We need those people on the team who are willing to test the boundaries, ask the hard questions and even be a little sharp when it’s necessary!

Cheese, Please!

We’ve all heard the waiter speak those words when adding cheese to our salad… “Say when please”! For some, just a brief dusting of cheese will suffice. For others, it seems as if they are having a smidgen of salad with their cheese! But someone has to say “when”… when to move forward, when to slow down, when to evaluate and when to stop! We need leaders who understand the value, the absolute necessity of understanding the timing of how and when to say “when”!

Gotta Have Those Delectables

Delectables are those things that we add to our salad that give it uniqueness, they give it distinction. Things like olives, artichoke hearts, boiled eggs, fruit or sliced avocado. Oh yes, and bacon! We can’t forget bacon! These all bring their own richness, their unique flavor to the salad. The each have their own fan clubs as well as their own sets of haters. Our teams, whether they are in companies, communities, churches or neighborhoods, are filled with individuals who are unique in their own right. Every person doesn’t fit the taste of every organization, or of everyone in the organization. But before we kick them out of the salad or off of the ingredient list, maybe we ought to remember this simple truth. You and I are not the only ones at the proverbial table. What may not be appealing to you might be very desirable to those you are trying to lead, reach or serve.

Time to Get Dressed Up!

Ah yes, the dressing! That last ingredient, the final topping for the salad. I remember my dad used to love blue cheese dressing, and how disgusted I was when I mistook his bottle of bleu cheese for ranch dressing! YUCK! But the world is full of people who love Catalina, Thousand Island, Italian or Creamy Italian Dressing. Yes, and even a few who love Bleu Cheese dressing! The point is simple. The way we cover our salad with dressing is similar to the way we cover, or “dress” ourselves for as leaders of those around us. Maybe yours is a very relational and warm “dressing” style. For others it may be more demure and less direct in nature. Just like salad dressing is a matter of taste, so will be the way you are received by others in the way you present yourself. Here’s a tip… the salad bar always has several options for salad dressings. Maybe everyone on your leadership team shouldn’t look or act exactly the same?

So which salad ingredient do you most identify with?

Which “Ingredients” do you think are critical to an organization if it is going to thrive?