I don’t trust people who like pulp in their orange juice.
Sure you can say I’m judgmental. I try not to be. But I draw the line at pulp.
Actually, I’ve got a theory about pulp.
My theory is that one day at the juice factory, the operations people were trying to figure out how to get rid of the excess waste from juice making. While they were talking about it, a sassy marketing coordinator walked by and jokingly said “why don’t you make people drink it!”
Yadda yadda yadda, and the next thing we know, the juice companies are selling their waste in cartons at the grocery store for us all to drink.
As I’ve grown older and begun to better understand the habits of successful leadership, my confusion about pulp has increased.
I’ll get to that in a minute.
First, let me explain to you my three problems with pulp.
The Pulp Problems
My first problem with pulped juice is that it’s inconsistent.
Every sip you take is a different experience than the previous. It could be smooth. It could be chunky. In fact, it could start out smooth, and then – shazam – it suddenly morphs into chunky.
That doesn’t seem like a great way to live one’s life.
My second problem with pulp is that it’s confusing.
Pulp is chewy. But juice isn’t meant for chewing, it’s meant for drinking.
Juice is supposed to be juicy. It’s right there in the name.
I like to have a very clear line between what I eat and what I drink. Few things blur the eating-drinking line more than pulp.
[Editor’s Note: don’t get him started on boba]
My third problem is that pulp is a bottleneck.
Pulp clogs the straw.
It creates a bottleneck in my drinking experience.
The straw works well for about two sips and then nothing. Suck all you want, your efforts are futile. It’s simply backlogged.
Oh, and if you try to bypass the straw and drink straight from the glass, it eventually backfires on you and turns into a complete mess.
Do you understand where I’m coming from now?
I don’t think you do.
Let me help you make the connection to your life.
The Prophecy of the Pulp Pillow
You’ve heard me say this before and you’ll hear me say it again until you get sick of me saying it:
The way somebody does one thing is the way they do everything.
To keep in line with my pulp problem let me slightly alter the saying.
The way somebody drinks one thing is the way they do everything.
Look, I even made a needlepoint pillow out of it.
If you’re one of those crazy people who like to drink pulp with orange juice, I sure hope, for the sake of all your subordinates, that you’re the leadership exception to my needlepoint pillow rule.
A Pulp-Filled Leadership
A pulp-like leadership style is a problem. Period. End of juice.
Let’s harken back to the issues about pulp that I outlined above.
- It’s inconsistent
- It’s confusing
- It’s a bottleneck
As a leader, those are three phrases you definitely do NOT want to be mentioned in your job review.
They’re bad for juice and they’re bad for business. Here’s why:
1. It’s Inconsistent
People in general don’t like surprises.
Well, except for surprise parties.
And surprise gifts.
But that’s not what I’m talking about and you know it, so stop distracting me.
People don’t like surprises that are bad or confusing. They tend to throw people into a tizzy. And when people are in a tizzy, they aren’t happy or productive.
The goal of a leader is to create a culture that is productive with happy employees.
You want to avoid tizzies.
Studies have shown that inconsistent behavior in the workplace decreases employee productivity.
Consistent behavior, on the other hand, increases productivity.
Consistent is good.
A recent report by Kincentric found that employees are more engaged and more productive when they have higher levels of trust.
What creates a high level of trust?
Here’s what has consistent behavior: a good leader
Here’s what doesn’t: pulp in orange juice
2. It’s Confusing
86% of employees say that poor communication is the main cause of failures in the workplace.
Poor communication impacts trust, productivity, and overall work satisfaction.
In my role as an executive coach, I speak with hundreds of leaders. Maybe even thousands. I lost count.
One of the most difficult challenges for leaders to overcome is a failure to communicate effectively. You’d be surprised at how many leaders create confusion in trying to explain their point.
There are three common reasons for a leader’s tendency to be confusing with their communication:
- Fear of conflict
- Not giving all the details because they take for granted that other people know what’s in their head
- Lack of direction, lack of purpose or lack of clarity around the end goal
I’m not going to dive into each of these at this time, because it leads to a much hotter cup of cocoa. Suffice it to say, that a leader’s poor communication causes confusion… just like drinking juice with pulp.
3. It’s A Bottleneck
The biggest challenge with many entrepreneurial leaders is their tendency to be a bottleneck for productivity.
I see this time and again. Leaders often feel like they need to make all the decisions. They believe that they are the only ones who can effectively make the correct choices to grow the business.
That can work right up until the point where the leader has at about 30 people working for them. Then they become the bottleneck.
People get frustrated when there’s a bottleneck. Especially when it’s the leader who is bottlenecking.
As with the pulp-straw dilemma, when there is a bottleneck at work, some people will try to avoid the bottleneck itself by bypassing the leader. However, more times than not, those efforts backfire and become a pulp-filled mess in the end.
The Proper Pulp of Leadership
Yeah yeah yeah, I bet that you’re the person who likes pulp in their juice.
You’re probably annoyed with me right now, aren’t you?
How about we make a deal: I’ll be open-minded about your (poor) drink choices if you are open-minded about my (great) leadership advice.
My leadership advice is pretty simple: go pulp-free.
There are three ways to do it:
- Be consistent in what you do and how you lead
- Strive for clarity and transparency in all of your communication
- Recognize when there is a bottleneck, and be open to the fact that it could be you. You have to clear that bottleneck to build a productive culture and a happy workforce
So next time you’re sipping on your breakfast juice, think of me. And then think of you. And then stop thinking of both of us before you spill orange juice all over yourself and embarrass everybody.
Just don’t be a pulpy leader, ok?
Do we have a deal?