I just love breakfast! I can eat a breakfast meal anytime during the day. And of course, my favorite breakfast meal is pancakes. Whether it is blueberry, strawberry or regular…if you say pancakes, I will come running to the table. Whether they are from Ward 8’s IHOP or from the Market Lunch at Eastern Market, on a Saturday morning you best believe that I am there ready to gulf down a short stack along with eggs, bacon and a glass of orange juice.
While sitting at the table enjoying my pancakes, there are times when I will look over at my friends or another customer’s plate to see if they are in food heaven like me. What I’ve noticed is, similar to leadership style; everyone has their own unique way of cutting their pancakes. After much observation, I’ve concluded the way you cut your pancakes is reflective of your leadership style and personality. Typically, pancake eaters use one of the following cutting styles: “criss-cross,” cut-as-you-go, or a half-and-half.
Let us analyze each style and see if it fits your personality.
Let’s begin with the criss-cross pattern. This pancake eater will cut their pancakes in a symmetrical pattern before pouring the syrup. I notice this person will eat each piece starting from the outside and working in; always leaving the middle piece last. The last piece taste the best because it had time to absorb the syrup and butter. If you are this type of pancake eater you are most likely a planner. You like to see the big picture and take a step-by-step approach to reach your goal. Reaching your goal is like taking a bite of the last piece of the pancake. After all your hard work, reaching your goal taste so sweet. However, you may be adverse to change and get up tight when you cannot predict the next step in the process to reaching your goal.
The next pancake eater is the “cut as you go” eater. Instead of being perfectly symmetrical like the criss-cross eater, your pancakes take on unpredictable form as you cut them. This pancake eater most likely leads spontaneously. You like change and hate to be placed in a box. You can also irritate the criss-cross pancake eater who is probably agenda-driven and wants to stay on task. You are aware of your ultimate goal, but believe there are multiple ways to get there. You don’t care how they look as long as you eat what is on the plate. Just like eating pancakes this leadership style sees winning as the goal, not the process on how to get there.
The final pancake eater is the “half-and-half” eater. The person will cut his pancakes in half. Set one half to the side and then pour the syrup. They will eat the half first and then start on the next half. I consider this style the project facilitator. They reach the goal by completing projects in a systematic approach. The completion of each project moves you closer in reaching the goal. This person is the perfect addition to a team because you are able to easily identify tasks and have a determination to complete them to help the “criss-cross” and “cut-as-you-go” styles reach their goal.
What I have learned about each pancake eater is there is no right or wrong way to cut your pancakes. At the end of the day, it is all going to the same place – your mouth. And just like there is not a right or wrong way to eat your pancakes, there is not one single way to lead. All three leadership styles have strengths and weaknesses but ultimately can get to the same goal. For example, Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X were pushing for the same cause. They had different leadership styles and both were effective. I remember when President Barack Obama was first elected. His critics said that he was not hardcore enough, yet at the end of his second term, most will think he accomplished a lot during his presidency. There are also unique styles of leadership in our Ward. Let’s be sure to encourage each other to improve the quality of life in our communities.
So next time you are eating pancakes make sure you are observant. Remember you can learn a lot about a person by how they eat their pancakes!
Charles E. Wilson is a former candidate for the Ward 8 City Council seat. He is currently the Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner for 8A05 as well as president and co-founder of the Historic Anacostia Block Association and River East Emerging Leaders. You can read his blog: The Art of WARd8 at www. artofward8.blogspot.com