If you’ve been scanning social media during this Covid-19 lockdown, you’ve probably noticed that there is a growing emphasis on baking bread. People are rediscovering the joy and art of fresh bread and all while sheltered away hiding from a deadly virus. They are trading recipes and posting photos of the results and describing how the experience changed their homes. Let’s ponder this together and apply it to leadership.

Consider what happens when someone bakes bread at home. There is a bustle in the kitchen. Soon a warm and inviting smell fills the house. People gather in eager anticipation. Memories are shared. Joy is shared. Then there is the eating. The butter. The honey. The laughter. The compliments. Gloom is lifted. All that was pressing moments before is dispelled. A home is transformed. And all by a little bread.

There is a lesson in this for our leadership lives. The mom who bakes the bread is probably just wanting to love her family a bit. But she is providing leadership. She is using an indirect device to “lead” the members of her family in a healthy, loving, healing direction. My question for you is this: What is the “baking bread” you use to draw your team toward unity, joy, health, and even healing?

This past week I spoke with a CEO whom I respect as much as any I know. His version of baking bread is cocktails. He told me that he can’t wait for the current lockdown to end in his state. He said that he felt his company is treading water while everyone is working from home. He was fine with this for now, he said, but he couldn’t wait until everyone got back to the office and began enjoying the firm’s tradition of company-sponsored cocktail gatherings at the end of the day. He concluded by saying this: “My experience is that when people have cocktails together, they are more unified and creative together.”

Clearly, his version of baking bread is cocktails. What’s yours? What experiences do you draw your team into that builds unity, spreads joy, encourages creativity, and helps to fashion a culture that leads to success? The options are too many to name completely, from BBQ challenges to athletic competitions, from social service fests to fashion shows. I’ve seen hundreds of variations. Yet behind each one there is a wise leader understanding that baking bread changes a home.

Here’s why I’m saying this now. As I write this, Covid-19 restrictions are starting to lift nationwide. This process will unfold for weeks. Then there will be the weird season that follows. People will need baking bread. They’ll need the indirect device that warms their hearts, assures them that life goes on, and bonds them to the other members of their team. The wise leader will provide this and weave it into his strategic planning for success in the face of what is coming.

You are smart. You are gifted. You are wise. So I ask you: What is your version of baking bread? How do you provide the indirect experience that heals, that restores, that bonds, and that re-reassures? You’ll come to it. It may even need to start online for now and then move back to the work site. Or remain completely outside of it. Fine. Just find it. We all need for you to be the creative leader you are called to be in the season that is coming.

That’s it. More soon. Stand strong. We will get through this and be better on the other side.