I can’t cook, but I can chop a mean carrot.

You only need to ask my two sons (now in their 20’s). They survived gut aches, first-world starvation after my inedible ‘secret’ recipes, and a lack of sandwich-swapping ability all through their schooling years. The thing is, I’m a really bad cook.

In fact my defunct culinary skills go further than my own flesh and blood. As a school principal my colleagues used to ask which brand I used for the morning tea muffins I had ‘baked’ for them.

To add salt into the wound, my mother was a home-economics teacher! 

So despite the many lessons in my youth, I still suck at cooking. 

I do however appreciate people who can create mouth-salivating goodness. When visiting anyone I have learned to play to my strengths. I can slice, dice, scrub and wash a mean dish. If I am hosting, I will seek support from someone in the ‘know’ (aka pay for it!). It’s about playing to our strengths and optimising those of others. This is also true for any leader.


Collaboration is key. When we collaborate (in an equitable manner), 

we optimise skills and passions so people can bring and be their best. 


When people speak about their strengths and passions, they also reveal areas for development. Without stating it directly, they become vulnerable to others in a safe way. This is not something to be feared. Dr Brene’ Brown states,


“Vulnerability is not weakness. I define vulnerability as emotional risk, exposure, uncertainty. It fuels our daily lives.” “Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change” (2018).


Also, if you are leading change, leveraging what people are doing well (or stronger in) is the best place to start. That way they feel valued and you are able to support them towards ‘quick-wins’ with some minor tweaks. 


Your job is to be a gold-digger. 

Seek the gold within those you lead and leverage to grow them.


Once people recognise your intent is to acknowledge and support them to grow, they will give you their trust, and in return allow you to see their vulnerabilities. If however you get all nit-picky on them, they will make like a venus flytrap and close up shop or quite frankly eat you whole (figuratively). So the trick is to remain consistent in your approach.

This week I encourage you to have an attitude of gratitude with your colleagues. Seek their strengths and encourage them to let their gold shine.

Oh and I’ve also signed up for a cooking class…wish me luck!

Lastly, I dare you…


I can't cook but I can chop a mean carrot

And for those of you for whom sleep in this heat is a challenge….

Love this!

Need a speaker?

There are plenty of speakers to choose from. I am not the norm. You won’t be bored to tears by the same ole’ approach and dribble. How about bringing Mary-Anne for the conference or all-staff day.

Give me a stage and I’ll own it. Give me a room and I’ll energise it. Give me your people and I’ll inform and inspire them. 

Need virtual delivery – no sweat! I have facilitated virtual full and half-day workshops, virtual keynote speaking at online conferences, and might I say, you still get the Mary-Anne goodness you deserve!

More details here


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Contact Mary-Anne

I want to help you and your organisation.
Tell me what you need, and I’ll be in touch real soon.

Yeah, you're ready to Level-Up your Leadership

Enter your details and we'll be in touch when new dates are announced.