Home Articles What I learnt about leadership, teamwork and innovation by watching Junior Masterchef

What I learnt about leadership, teamwork and innovation by watching Junior Masterchef


Much intellect and literature has been devoted to trying to figure out Gen Y.

And, now, Generation Z/Internet Generation/Generation @ (whatever you want to call them) are already entering the early stages of their productive working lives. I’m tipping they’ll be just as different to Gen Y as what Gen Y is to Gen X and the Baby Boomers.

While watching Junior Masterchef tonight, I had an epiphany. We have to get in early if we are to harness the best of human behaviour before the inevitable tainting, cynicism and selfishness sets in through learning and experience.

So what have I learnt from the junior Georges, Matts and Garrys’ on Junior Masterchef?

1. Crack On

No matter what the task is and no matter how insurmountable it seems — give it a go. What’s to lose except your self-imposed dignity and pride (which these kids haven’t figured out just yet)?

You’ll never die wondering, there’ll be no regrets (unless you cue your pride and dignity again). Who knows – you might actually achieve the outcome.

2. Unbridled enthusiasm

These kids don’t know failure. Continually falling back upon the ethos of ‘giving it a crack’, they do so with absolute enthusiasm and intrinsic motivation.

They do what they love — and it shows (and puts my home-made chicken Caesar salad to utter self-imposed shame).

Sure, they may be kids, but they’ve discovered early on in life what they do well and what they enjoy. It’s a killer combo.

3. Make mistakes

While they know what they know, they’re not afraid to acknowledge, admit and learn from their mistakes. Innovation can either be a Eureka moment, or a process of trial and error.

Dropped a cake on the floor when cooking for the Prime Minister? Oh well, blow the germs off it (surely the ‘three-second rule’ applies?), plate it up the best you can and just don’t make the same mistake again. Have a laugh (or a quiet tear) as you go about it.

4. Remain supportive

Despite being in a competitive environment, with a swag of prizes on offer, the Junior Masterchef crowd are fully upbeat and supportive of each other.

They cheer each other on, they help each other out, they high-five, they hug, they have a supportive laugh when someone makes a mistake to help them realise it’s not such a big thing. And how do they respond? Superbly.

The judges do the judging – they know this, so what’s left to do other than support each other?

5. No hidden agenda

Because they’re too busy being genuine in their peer support, not being afraid to take risks and giving it a go with a common goal in mind (be the best they can individually be), they have no politics to contend with and hence no agenda to destroy all their good work.

It sounds simple enough, right? But imagine what could be achieved in everyday life if ‘the greater good’ was the goal, instead of empire building and protecting.

Innovation thrives in this environment — why put it in shackles by being selfish?

The ‘wisdom’ of the young

How simple are these to implement in the workplace when managing anyone, but especially managing and leading Gen Y and beyond? Very.

Let go of the ‘norm’ in management behaviour, tap into your inner-Junior Masterchef and see what positive outcomes you generate as a result.

Remember — if it doesn’t work, apply the three-second rule, pick your mistake up off the floor and crack on. Who knows – something good might just come of it.

Chris Walter is a recent arrival in the civilian world after a career in the Royal Australian Navy. He is now a leadership development workshop facilitator at Qimota Training. Visit http://www.qimotatraining.com.au