The reactions to the exit of Bill Yosses, the White House Executive Pastry Chef have been intriguing. Many feel that he has been forced out of his current job due to the healthy eating initiatives of the First Lady, like the views expressed here and here. However the entire episode presents great lessons in leadership for us to take cues from.
Bill Yosses is leaving to start his own initative to promote the vision of healthy eating that has been the main focus of the First Lady Michelle Obama for the past many years. Now that seems to be one of the best examples of having a vision so strong that it forces others to adapt a path seemingly opposite of what they have done so far and been successful at. This seems to be the true essence of having a visionary purpose for a good cause.
When Bill Yosses was hired in 2007, he was already an acclaimed pastry chef. In this case his leader inspired him to think out of the box and use his creativity to produce equally tasty desserts but with different and more challenging ingredients. Now doing the same thing over and over again does get a little monotonous, so by providing him challenges helped keep him engaged and explore another area of interest like helping build the White House Garden.
Unafraid to take risks
With Bill Yosses deciding to take on a mission of teaching healthy eating to adults and children, a leader has been created who is unafraid to take risks and move away from his comfort zone. At the same time, giving up a prestigious job with easy access to fame and connections would not have been easy. But he has managed to do so while at the same time not alienating his roots.