This article was based on episode #32: Braden Cadenelli’s Story, please watch the complete episode here!
“Leaders are not only chosen because they have a specific title in the company. Leadership is something that you can exhibit no matter where you are.” — Braden Cadenelli
The latest client-horror episode is very different from the others. We’re going to talk about food, specifically desserts. And, yes, this story is going to be interesting for a sweet tooth and anyone who enjoys desserts on special occasions or craves them most of the time. Every niche business has its hiccups and the food industry is not an exception. So, before you indulge in the story’s details, you might want to grab a cupcake and some tea to accompany it.
Braden Cadenelli, our guest today, is the Senior Research and Development Manager at the National Innovation Centers of Puratos, where he focuses on developing products in line with emerging technologies. But before he started working for his current company, he was a member of a semi-industrial wholesaler company specializing in patisserie. This setting, ironically, is where all the untasteful happenings begin.
In a nutshell, Braden’s former firm sold wholesale to restaurants, grocery stores, coffee shops, and other businesses in the food service industry, providing them with everything they needed to manufacture desserts and other products. In addition to that, they branched out into the production of products under their private label. So one time, a cupcake retail chain took interest in their service and approached them.
The owner of the cupcake retail chain was so overwhelmed by their company’s success that they were struggling to keep up with demand. Due to this, they resorted to purchasing cupcakes from Braden’s former company to simplify and speed up the cupcake production process. However, the minute the customer walked through the door, Braden and his team had a premonition that things were going to go from sweet to sour.
Well, I’m sure we’re all familiar with that feeling, right? Where we could sense dreadful energy from folks the instant you observed their behavior toward you. Remarkably, Braden instantly picked up on the client’s behavior because she seemed more concerned with receiving free food than expanding the company’s reach.
During the client’s first visit, she asked the staff what they were working on, and because she was a potential customer, Braden would explain it to her. She continues to ask if she can try the product and if they could give her the extra food they produced earlier. This continued until the client’s third visit, at which point Braden and his staff decided the best course of action was to have refreshments ready for the client whenever she arrived so that she would not continue to be a nuisance to them.
After several meetings, the client and two owners of Braden’s previous company agreed as to when and where they will deliver the products, the pricing, and other details. Therefore, the next step was to gather the client’s cupcake recipe to replicate it and start ordering the ingredients since they must make 500 cupcakes at a time.
While Braden and his crew were planning the production, the client asked if she and her crew could come and oversee all the ingredients once it was delivered. Even though it’s a little bit odd, Braden eventually agrees. After all, it’s common knowledge that you need to be able to trust your coworkers and even your clients to succeed in business.
Once the supplier delivered the ingredients, the client immediately checked them. After that, she told the owners that not all the ingredients were the same as the ones they used in their cupcakes. The owners then explained that it was the same product and exact technical specifications, but the packaging was different.
Unfortunately, the client couldn’t understand and still insisted on it. Not until she threw a tantrum fuelled by trust issues, as if the owners purchased the right ingredients or if they would produce the cupcakes properly. The owners handled the situation professionally, allowing the customer to collect her composure before showing her the technical data sheets containing the cupcake’s ingredients.
Since the technical data sheets were irrefutable, the problem was solved, and they all moved on to the next step. The ingredients and the recipe were all gathered, so it was time to schedule production and do test runs in which they would make samples.
Meanwhile, the executive pastry chef announced before the day of the production run that he would be leaving town and would not be available to work on the day of the production run. So he gave the pastry chef’s assistant complete control of all production procedures and made her the team leader.
When the day of production finally arrived, things ran smoothly. But as time went by, Braden and the staff began to slow down in their work because most of it had to be performed entirely by hand and did not just depend on machines. Since they were already two hours behind schedule, the client unexpectedly intervened and offered to bring some of her personnel to help, to which the other owner readily agreed.
However, due to the day’s extreme events, the pastry sous chef could not lead the production process as she usually would have. Also, she didn’t step up when the client brought her staff which could be a problem if they aren’t familiar with the business’s processes and so detract from the value of making the cupcakes.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, there was another problem when the client showed up at the company to check the quality of the cupcakes. She started by eating just one cupcake, but after five minutes, she devoured ten cupcakes from each batch.
It is reasonable to perform quality assurance checks at various stages of production; however, there is a restriction to how often you should do it. Besides, remember that these checks are meant to boost sales for the firm, not personal satisfaction.
Everything was almost fallen at that time; even the client had a breakdown. Many things transpired, and nobody knew how to handle everything, so they were forced to remain with the original plan. They finished up for the day, and the cupcakes were packaged and sent on their way to the customer.
Conclusively, it all boils down to a lack of trust, misunderstanding, and being incapable to lead. If you are a leader in a team at a company, one of your responsibilities is to make sure that, whenever there is a minor problem with the project, you uncover the best approach to fix it. But even so, it is not required that you constantly follow the plan.
Recognize that nothing is set in stone and that you may need to make modifications at any stage of the project’s development. In addition, you don’t have to be in charge of everything; instead, you should learn to put your faith in your coworkers so that the work can be completed quickly and accurately.
Everyone can lead, regardless of their background or current standing.
Though some people are born leaders, the ability to lead is not always innate. Being a good leader requires a significant amount of bravery; some people may even benefit from formal training or experience in the field.
The concept of a leader is open to as many interpretations as there are distinct leadership styles. Simply put, leadership is about casting a vision and gathering support from people to carry it out.
Moreover, leaders can achieve their objectives by combining interpersonal influence, clear business communication, and the ability to inspire others. Hence, to move one’s people and organization towards a common goal, a leader must be able to do it, either in an inspirational or more conventional way.
A company’s leadership isn’t limited to the upper echelons of management; it can come from anywhere in the company, even from a subordinate or an employee at a lower level.
For instance, you can let your leader know about the minor issue and any other loopholes you’ve found in the project so that they will know how to solve the problem. This will allow the leader to make the appropriate adjustments. If your leader, on the other hand, is still at a loss for what to do, you are free to offer suggestions, take the initiative, and discuss possible solutions with everyone.
There is no need to ascend the corporate ladder to assume leadership responsibilities; instead, you can lead by establishing and adhering to your own rules and principles. Leadership can be defined as taking any action to improve the situation and organize your team members, no matter how small. It doesn’t matter where you stand right now; you have the potential to take the reins.
Good business relationships are built on trust.
One cannot put a price on trust, but it is undeniably crucial to any successful enterprise. A lack of confidence can be one of the most expensive things for business owners. There will be no business to conduct nor maintain influence, and leaders risk losing their teams if they can’t establish trust with people.
As a business owner, you must comprehend the significance of establishing genuine trust within the workplace. Your business can’t run steadily if there’s no trust between employees. Consequently, you will end up with a group of dysfunctional individuals rather than a team.
Having a trustworthy workplace does not necessitate everyone becoming great pals. It is not a matter of completing a certain number of trust falls, nor is it even a matter of assisting others when they are in need. There are many online definitions of trust, but to me, it means two things: (1) everyone on the team is working hard to advance the company’s interests; and (2) as a leader, you must relinquish control and allow your team to work on what needs to be done.
You are not required to check everything; you only need to supervise and inquire how far your team has come or what minor problems they have encountered. While it’s not always easy to put your faith in others, it’s especially crucial in the business world and can motivate your team to do their best.
Throughout Braden’s story, their lack of trust is a minor issue that hinders their productivity. The client struggles with trust, which makes it challenging for her to let go of the control she had. Additionally, she was very particular about scrutinizing every step of the process, from sourcing the ingredients to the final step.
While it is the leader’s responsibility to ensure that the team is meeting its goals, it is also important to remember that when hiring new employees, they must have faith that they can do the work without supervision. As Braden said, “So much of what we do in any business is trust. Empowering people and trusting them to do what you’ve hired them to do. There’s a reason you hired them; let them do their job.”
Be flexible and adapt to changes.
All things will eventually change. The best leaders are aware of this fact and possess the ability to adapt quickly to shifting conditions. Most importantly, they have the resilience to deal with the troublesome and novel circumstances that these changes inevitably bring.
Influential leaders must demonstrate flexibility and the ability to adjust when faced with change. As time goes on, everything, including business trends and technological advances, will inevitably change, making these things equally crucial to the success of any company.
In addition, leaders who possess these qualities will be able to find opportunities in adversity rather than shy away from them. They don’t steer away from the difficulties because they know there’s a lot to pick up from making mistakes and running into roadblocks.
Strong leadership goes beyond the ability to devise detailed strategies. In addition, you must make plans that are flexible enough to accommodate unexpected changes so that you can respond effectively to unforeseen situations. Hence, your team’s value will increase due to your ability to accomplish this goal.
Regarding the circumstance involving Braden, their leader, the pastry sous chef, failed to recognize the issue and could not make the necessary adjustments to accommodate it. She made a critical error by concentrating on the task rather than politely declining the client’s offer to bring her staff during the production run.
As Braden explained, bringing more people who didn’t know their production process, precisely the types of machinery, did not add any value. In that case, the pastry sous chef should’ve stepped up and explained it to the client. However, she let her emotions lead, was unable to adapt to changes in the workplace, and failed to manage her staff members effectively.
Adapting to a situation requires both flexibility and adaptability; one cannot adapt to a problem if they are not flexible enough to recognize changes in their environment. Team members can learn to be more adaptable and flexible if their leaders demonstrate these traits.
Every challenge, from resolving crises to meeting deadlines, necessitates some degree of change, and the degree to which members of a team are receptive and willing to adjust during such transitions determines the degree to which the team will be able to grow stronger. Just like Braden said, “Projects change, situations change. If you cannot be adaptable and flexible, you’re going to fail. You need to be able to change”.
A leader needs to be level-headed and involved when there’s a slight problem within the organization.
Inevitably, any company will have bumps in the road to prosperity. This is the point at which leaders are tested to determine whether they can handle and monitor problems appropriately and professionally.
Any problem, no matter how small, can quickly snowball into a much larger one. Some leaders might not see it, and because of this, your team members play a significant role because they keep you informed of any changes or gaps in the process. Hence, there is no need for leaders to be concerned; they will approach the issue rationally, allowing you to develop effective solutions.
In general, a leader needs to have initiative, a sound mind, and the ability to remain open to criticisms, feedback, and recommendations when confronted with significant conflicts within the workplace. Furthermore, they need compassion and sympathy for others, particularly coworkers, and participate in every process, regardless of its potential outcomes.
Leaders should convey a sense of empathy in their communications.
Empathizing with others invigorates better communication between superiors and peers in the workplace. Although it is a non-technical skill, its potential as a quality indicator has been overlooked. Why? It’s because nowadays, most people would rather talk about themselves and their interests than delve into another person’s life and learn about them.
Empathy is not a trait that is innate in humans, so cultivating it or even mastering it can be challenging. However, if people are eager to listen without passing judgment on what they hear, they can learn to develop empathy.
Understanding the feelings and wants of other people is, in a nutshell, what empathy is all about. In addition, you need to be sensitive to other people’s emotions. For leaders, this means thinking about how their actions will make others feel rather than focusing solely on output performance measures.
A leader is not merely issuing orders or delegating responsibilities; to motivate followers to go beyond their capabilities, they must also demonstrate empathy for those they supervise. Leaders who put in the effort to learn about their employees are better able to give them the encouragement they need to push through any obstacles standing in their way and reach their objectives.
Therefore, communication is an essential tool for fostering empathy. Leaders can go a long way toward boosting morale and promoting a sense of community by simply checking in with their members and asking how they are doing. Besides that, you can observe a radiance in their faces when they are at ease speaking with you, indicating that they trust you and will respect their emotions.
People often have difficulty expressing their feelings when they are under stress, doubting themselves, or even questioning their value, which is especially noticeable in the workplace. That’s why it’s crucial to show empathy; just trying to strike up a conversation or find some common ground can go a long way toward easing their internal struggles.
According to Braden, “You’re always doing business with other people. So it’s therefore personal. You have to understand where they’re coming from, meet them where they are, and have empathy and understanding.”
When things at work get too stressful, it’s time to step back and take a breather.
Taking a break from whatever you’re doing gives your body much-needed rest, enabling you to return to it with renewed vigor. The problem is that it can make you feel guilty because it appears you’re not doing anything, even though it will likely improve your future productivity, mood, and efficiency.
Stress at work is expected because no matter how meticulously you plan a project, problems and unexpected twists will arise. Besides that, when you’re trying to meet a deadline or facing a difficult challenge that’s putting you under a lot of pressure, it can be tempting to push yourself to concentrate even though you’re already tired.
However, if you want to find solutions to problems quickly, taking a break from your work is necessary. You’ll be able to look back at what transpired during the process, gain perspective on the work or task, and proficiently reconsider new information to assess your progress.
Looking back to Braden’s story, since they only had one day to run the production, they rushed to get things done and forgot to take a breather. So at the end of the day, they feel like it doesn’t have value and that they do all those things for them to reach the deadline. Everyone was stressed, frustrated, and even had slight breakdowns.
Rushing things can lose the purpose of your work; let yourself rest so that when you return to work, you will produce fresh ideas and be productive throughout the day.
Ultimately, holding a leadership position is not a simple endeavor. Implementing the most effective strategies in the industry calls for a significant amount of awareness, perseverance, and analytical thought.
There will likely be obstacles in your way, but remember to take the lead if you ever feel something wrong about how things are going. A good leader can be developed by anyone, so long as they are willing to stand up for what is right. And that’s it! We hope you enjoyed this story. See you in the next episode.
This article was based on episode #32: Braden Cadenelli’s Story, please watch the complete episode here!