Binding Us Together By Andrea Leigh Capuyan
Binding With the Right Ingredients Shapes the Outcome
Binding agents matter in baking cakes and leadership.
I have a pound cake recipe in my baking collection that is my ‘go-to,’ ‘tried-and-true’ cake. Through the years, I’ve tried other cake recipes and even doctored up a few box cakes adding my spin. The pound cake remains. Pound cake is this blend of density and moisture…oh, and sugar, lots of sugar. It is the interplay of the flour and eggs that bind the cake together.
I found this helpful definition of binding agents online:
“Binders are any ingredient that can help a mixture hold its shape or remain bound together. Traditional binding agents include flour and eggs.”
That one phrase, “hold its shape or remain bound together,” got me thinking about how leaders can best steward organizations so that organization can hold their shape and interpersonal relationships remain bound together. Trust and belonging are two essential binding agents in that recipe.
Good leaders want to be trustworthy. That’s a pretty basic concept. It would be odd to hear a leader dismiss the importance of trust. Trust is not a state of being. If we want to be trustworthy, we must take action. It is cultivated and built. Trust is created through intentional and habitual actions we take. As leaders, we must regularly examine our trustworthiness. When our behaviors and decisions are predictable, while that might seem tedious, it gives others a sense of security because we act true and as expected. We must invite our teammates into honest conversations about our behaviors – how do they experience us?
A trustworthy organization comes from trustworthy leadership. Leaders must be those who can be relied on. Being consistent, grounded, and present is necessary. Trustworthy leaders are open to audits and feedback, and they guide an organization in that way. This means organizations rooted in trust will embrace robust risk management systems and internal controls. With reliable guiding systems and clear protocols, organizations remain honest – the manifestation of what we say we value. This creates binding protection that allows an organization to hold its shape and stay the course even during rough seas. And it all begins with the leader and an individual commitment to give and foster trust.
The give and take required in interpersonal relationships strengthen a sense of belonging. Organizations that promote a safe and secure culture seek to be a place of belonging where individuals are seen and known. I sense I fit in and belong when I know I am wanted. For leaders, this requires a dedication to be thorough, thoughtful, even slow, and prioritize people over products. A leader’s focus and attention become their relationship with teammates, creating opportunities for others to offer their gifts and display their strengths. It celebrates each person’s unique voice – how are individuals welcomed and embraced within the organization?
Belonging requires vulnerability because leaders must be willing to acknowledge when they need help. Empowering others is essential, and it can be deceptive because a leader can become wooed into false empowerment. A leader might fixate on helping others yet never show colleagues their own faults, follies, or challenges. This can lead to a subtle power imbalance where the leader only gives aid and never receives help, undermining a sense of equity and inclusion. If the leader stays aloof, this will impede an ethos of mutual connection and belonging. We are bound together when we know we are wanted, needed, and empowered.
A sense of belonging is an essential ingredient that translates mission and values into organizational identity.
Like flour and eggs, trust and belonging act together to shape and bind. Just like in baking, it requires a delicate balance of each. When I think of the best pound cakes, they are dense, sweet, and rich. They are simple and yet created from the abundance of each ingredient… it’s easy… a pound of flour, eggs, and sugar. Likewise, the best organizations are places where trust is plentiful and interpersonal relationships are rich. There is depth and sweetness that is ever-present.
As I think of my pound cake, I am reminded of the moment at the end of a good meal when the dessert is served. It is that moment when we remember our time together around the table. In the best way, the dinner table invites us to learn from and enjoy one another. We are fed, satisfied, and seated, sharing laughter, tears, and conversation. We are grateful for each person who is present. And then, a dessert is placed before us to remind us to savor the sweetness of what we have together – shaped and bound together.
Andrea Leigh Capuyan is the Executive Director of Laurel Pregnancy Center. Andrea holds a Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership from York University. She is a Credentialed Christian Nonprofit Leader with Christian Leadership Alliance and a Certified Nonprofit Accounting Professional.
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Christian Leadership Alliance equips and unites leaders to transform the world for Christ. We are the leaders of Christ-centered organizations who are dedicated to faithful stewardship for greater kingdom impact.
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