Rare Leadership – Part 3 of 3


“Let’s just be friends!”

No, it’s not our anniversary, and no, those aren’t words I was told by anyone personally – at least not recently.

Why the wedding cake? Keep reading…

Hallmark Christmas movie season is upon us, and soon enough someone will have to utter those words in a painfully anticlimactic scene by a fire place. ‘Let’s just be friends’ is usually not an invitation, but a boundary statement.

One of our team members shared the deep insight that ‘what is communicated as a boundary by one person, might be perceived as an invitation by another.’

The funny thing is that I remember not one, but several situations in our personal network, where the words ‘let’s just be friends,’ can mean one thing to the sender of the message, but something entirely different to the receiving end.

While this can mean we’re friends and ONLY friends in one culture, in another it can mean ‘I have only one opposite-gender-friend in my life and that is my spouse.’

Oh the beauty of cross-cultural teamwork.

These types of conversations are somewhat extreme examples of assumptions, versus trying to really understand that what we are saying and what is being heard is the same message.

We can make the assumption that what we hear is the same as what it being said, but also we can make the assumption that what we say is the same as what is being heard. 

One of the tools that the authors of Rare Leadership share to help ‘Remain Relational’ is another acronym, which will make things not just easy, but enjoyable to remember.


  • Curiosity
  • Appreciation
  • Kindness
  • Eye contact

“Remaining relational while solving problems builds trust in the people we lead.”

–Marcus Warner & Jim Wilder in Rare Leadership

We’ve started trying this out with our team, and when we try to work out a problem together – large or small – we remind each other to throw around some CAKE.

  • C – Being curious and asking questions instead of moving ahead based on assumptions.
  • A – Finding something to appreciate in the relationship instead of turning dialogue into complaining sessions.
  • K – Being kind is defined as doing something good for another person, instead of primarily trying to figure out ‘what’s in it for me?’
  • E – And making eye contact is a powerful way to make a connection, instead of trying to avoid a person or situation.

Rings a bell with anyone? Can you think of a relationship in which you think you know what was said to you, but you just realised that maybe your interpretation was based on some assumptions?

Have some CAKE.

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