A Blog by John Bossong

Leadership Thought For The Day

My oldest daughter (I have three) provides the leadership thought for today.  It comes courtesy of a lunch that was missing yesterday morning.  You can call it the missing lunch or the unprepared lunch.  What you call it doesn’t matter but the leadership lesson will stick with you.


Leadership Thought




My wife makes lunch for all 3 of my daughters every morning before school.  I have a great wife and our daughters have a great mom (hopefully my wife reads this and I get some bonus points for this statement).

But, there’s always a but.

What happens when mom goes away for a couple of days?


The Dilemma


My oldest daughter (leaving for college in the fall) left for school without lunch yesterday morning.

I don’t have lunch because mom always makes it for me.

Leadership Thought Lessons


#1 – If you do everything for your people all the time, they don’t learn how to do anything for themselves.  It becomes an excuse and crutch.  Something to lean on rather than something to learn from.

#2 – The people you lead need to solve problems for themselves.  When you do their job, they don’t learn and grow.  They don’t become leaders.  You hired them because they make a difference and matter.  Let them find a way to make a difference and matter.

#3 – Serving those you lead isn’t the same as doing their job.  When they know you will do their job rather than help, coach, mentor and lead, people make excuses.  “Where is my lunch?  Mom always makes it.”

#4 – Let your people solve the problems they bring you. Don’t let them leave the problem with you.  How will they eat lunch today?  How will they prepare it?  Let them use their skills, abilities and resources to solve problems.

#5 – People will find a way if you let them. Let your people find a way.  Don’t be the way.  Don’t make their lunch.  Give them tools and encouragement.  Show them the why and let them provide the how.

What are you doing for your team that you need to stop doing so they can learn to lead?    


  1. Perhaps Dad should have made it with her?

  2. John,

    Your advice to get people solving the problems they bring is useful and a key to effective leadership.

    To expand on situations more complex than lunch-making…When people genuinely lack the skills, knowledge, or connections to solve that problem, it is wise to reduce ambiguity and help them focus on how to acquire the skills, knowledge, thinking, etc to solve the problem.

    It’s an in-between step – short of just giving the solution and doing the thinking yourself, but still shortening their learning curve so as to efficiently build capacity in your team. This the coaching you mention in #3.

    Great post,


    • David,

      Thanks for your comment and great feedback. You are right on target. I agree 100%. The in-between step is crucial. Thanks for the great additional advice, reading and commenting.

      Take care,

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