Written from the perspective of 2 business school professors, it offered some great leadership and management lessons in the context of preparing the Thanksgiving Day meal. They highlight possible approaches to planning and executing such a task. Creating a vision, delegating work, empowering "employees," outsourcing, communicating with key stakeholders, etc.
Vision and planning is essential to a winning Thanksgiving; only after you know the intended objectives should you move into execution.
It starts with asking yourself, as the Thanksgiving chief architect, what is your vision for this day and this meal.There are 2 different models for management: the old "command-and-control" versus the looser "organizing to innovate." The latter is much more flexible and creates greater buy-in, which is essential in a friendly setting. Delegating is also essential in pulling off such a big day.
...Don’t micromanage every dish and orchestrate every interaction among guests. Think bigger. Do you want to recreate exactly the meals your mother prepared? Or do you want to push through to a new culinary frontier? Do you want a day of reverent gratitude or lazy hedonistic pleasure? With a vision firmly carved out, the next task is what business leaders would call engaging key stakeholders and identifying their performance expectations. That means figuring out who are the most important people to you at the Thanksgiving table and asking what they really want from the day and from you, the host.
Remember, it's not just a meal with the family - it's a chance to hone your leadership skills. What type of leader or manager are you, in business and in life? Consider these gatherings to be practice. Even though you can't put it on your resume, every little bit helps!
If you decide to outsource particular tasks, like pie making, make sure the outside firm (i.e. your sister-in-law) has the right equipment and skill to create a pie that meets your expectations. If not, the job might have to go to another relative or you might have to allow her to pick up a pie from a subcontractor, which is also called a bakery.Whatever the task, communicate it clearly and give some thought to who might benefit from doing it. Your brother always helped your late mother make the gravy. Shouldn’t he have the honors this year? A high school student allowed to lead grace will feel like an adult. Asking your shy neighbor to make sure everyone has a drink gives her a reason to interact.
...Just keep in mind what all successful executives know: Thank people publicly and often, and never, ever point a finger.
“A good leader,” Mr. Friedman said, “shares all the credit and takes all the blame.”