We are constantly asked;

How do we predict leadership success?
What is the recipe that we use that will guarantee a great leader?
And with over a billion google search results; how do we make sense of all of the research?

The best dessert trifle has 5 layers that guarantee success. Sponge, Custard, Fruit, Jelly and Booze. But every chef and cook has their own twist in one or more layers that they believe raises the bar for success. So, what about the leadership trifle #leadershiptrifle?


The foundation of a trifle is the sponge. In most research the foundation of a great leader is their cognitive ability. This is defined as a general mental capability involving reasoning, problem solving, planning, abstract thinking, complex idea comprehension, and learning from experience (Gottfredson, 1997). Many leadership assessments test for verbal and numeric reasoning, but great leadership is also about the abstract reasoning or someone’s capacity to see patterns and make sense of this. In the millennial age of “big data” this foundation ability is even more critical.


As for the rest of the leadership trifle, the recipes are as shaky as jelly. Over the last 50 years, with hierarchical organisations located in hubs still reigning supreme, a mix of motivations, skills, experiences and characteristics have been selected for as predictors of potential. Often these are organisation specific totally dependent on the companies life stage and culture. One major consulting report I read suggested a solid performance record including leadership experiences as a predictor of success. Very reminiscent of meritocracy. #oldfashionedhierarchy


But the millennial leadership trifle is pushing these theories. A start up that is “remote first” agile, customer centric and a disruptor can and will be successful with no performance record or leadership experiences.  That said, leadership is really important in startups. Leaders make quick decisions, manage ambiguity and steer the vision and a collaborative team. This is cognitive ability, collaborative mindset plus #boozefactor or good new-fashioned risk.


Want to know more about a leadership trifle? Contact us for a recipe.