A Leadership Lesson from Ice Cream Cake

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I did something remarkably stupid the other day.

It was so ridiculous I can’t believe I not only did this, but also that I’m about to tell you about it.

I had just completed a 10k run along Okanagan Lake, and returned home feeling great. I went to the freezer to get ice to put in a glass of water and was confronted with a left-over ice cream birthday cake from Dairy Queen.

I ate it. I ate it ALL.

I sat down on my deck, admiring the view of where I had just run, and ate a thick slice of ice cream cake.

As I wiped the last bit of chocolate icing from my chin, it was only then that I paused to consider the absurdity of the situation. Here I had done something reasonably healthy in completing a good run, and had basically nullified its effectiveness by wolfing down a million calories and a boat-load of fat from this ice cream cake.

Now, at the risk of hammering an illustration pretty hard, I think we sometimes do this in our leadership. I’ll call this the Ice Cream Cake Syndrome.

I’ve noticed, for example, that a lot of people attend The Leadership Summit every year, get all fired up about their leadership, but immediately afterwards put their conference binders on the shelf, never to refer to them again. They then plow back in to the grind of daily life.

It’s kinda like eating ice cream cake after a run. By not paying attention to ongoing leadership development, it nullifies a lot of the benefit of the Summit experience itself.

At a recent gathering of our Summit host pastors from across Canada we asked them how they place the Summit in the context of an ongoing leadership development plan. Check out their answers in this 2 minute video and see if it sparks some ideas for you.

What is your plan for ongoing leadership development?

Let me know how you develop your own ongoing leadership development plan and I’ll share these with other leaders. And let’s commit to avoiding the Ice Cream Cake Syndrome!

the author

Scott Cochrane


  1. Great post Scott, (BTW you still have a little chocolate on you chin) we see the same think in our sales and marketing training sessions. All fired up and then they return to the pressures of work and nothing changes. Reinforcement and accountability need to be present to help change behaviors.

    1. Developing a plan for reinforcement will make sure you get the full value from the Summit fee

    2. Leadership needs to help others understand how the concept translates to your organization and your goals.

    3. Immediately reinforce the training as most attendees either forget or ignore what they learned within a few hours or days, and the potential for meaningful results is lost.

    4. Help others help themselves Whose job is it to ensure that reinforcement takes place? This responsibility should not fall entirely on the management team. Get others involved if they have might have expertise in this area.

    5. Create simple meeting guides. Managers should plan to incorporate concepts and techniques from training into conversations as they meet with their reports on a regular basis. Create a simple guide to outline the concepts and tips to be reinforced from the training, as well as potential activities they might use.

    6. Offer follow-up training to attendees. Managers can take some of the more important things that were taught during training and do additional “reminder” sessions on their own, or see what the Leadership Center offers in follow up training or resources. Short 30 minute-long follow-up sessions will help attendees to remember some of the key points and keep them on top of their game.

  2. Scott…this is a great lesson. I wish I were doing better on this to be honest. Two things I do practice are reading biographies–learning from the life of someone else–and talking with other leaders on specific situations. “Iron sharpens iron”.

  3. Heather, to quote Bill Hybels, “No one ever drifted into becoming a better leader.” It always requires intentionality. I love the way you incorporate biographies and personal interaction into your plan. I should do more of both of these practices!

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