How Many PB&J’s Have You Had?


The other day I had the opportunity to present the opening keynote session at the Lavacon/PMI GNO 2009 Event in New Orleans. I talked a lot about leadership.   Whether you are leading a large program, a small project, or a division staff of 200 – your leadership skills, or lack thereof, will define your success.  I shared my insights on how to LEAD, using four simple strategies:  Listen, Encourage, Act and Delegate.    Did you know Delegation is about peanut butter and jelly sandwiches?

This past summer I introduced a new opportunity to my 15-year old son Geoff.  I informed him that he was officially responsible for preparing dinner for the family every Wednesday evening.  My rationale?  He is the only boy of five children and I did not want him to grow up believing females will always be around to prepare his meals.  He is also a strapping young man, with an insatiable appetite; I want to make sure Geoff is more than capable of preparing his own meals before he leaves the family nest.

I gave him clear expectations.  I told him that dinner is at 7pm.  He is free to prepare meals of his choice. If he needs ingredients, he needs to let me know the day before so I can get him everything his recipe requires.

The first month, we ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  By the end of the 1st month, we graduated to grilled cheese.  Over the summer, Geoff gradually gained more confidence in his culinary ability; he recently cooked us steaks on the grill, with baked potatoes and Caesar salad.  Last week, while in the car, he expressed his interest to pursue culinary arts after graduating high school.

It has been amazing to watch Geoff gain self-confidence in himself over the past few months.  When originally given the assignment, he was less than pleased.  Yet gradually, as each week passes, Geoff flourishes; he now looks forward to being resident chef on Wednesday evenings.

The key to success?  You must be willing to eat a few peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to promote growth and development among your teammates.

Remember, delegation needs to happen on a regular basis; make sure you delegate assigned tasks at every meeting.  Delegate with clear expectations, so the assignment is clearly understood.  Be certain to delegate across your constituency – do not play favorites.  Balanced delegation will allow you and your team to find economies of scale – quite important in todays challenged economy.

Bon appetite!

Lisa DiTullio, Principal, Lisa DiTullio & Associates, LLC,


1 thought on “How Many PB&J’s Have You Had?”

  1. Great point! Too many times people are impatient and don’t want to sit through the PB&J so instead will just do the work themselves and leave the other team members with nothing new and challenging to work on. The same as teaching someone to fish, the time invested (and adjusted expectations knowing you will get PB&J) is well worth it.

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