By Jim Whitt
Fred entered the room carrying a picture of John Wayne. Along with the other people in the room, Fred had been given the assignment of reading Riding for the Brand: The Power of Purposeful Leadership. The first thing on the meeting agenda was to discuss what they had read and how the principles in the book applied to their organization.
I asked Fred why he was carrying a picture of John Wayne. “Because,” he said, “John Wayne is all about Riding for the Brand.” To help you connect the dots, I wrote the book as a template for creating a purpose-driven organization. It’s an allegory — a western novel set 30 years into the future about the model organization of the 21st century. If the book were made into a movie, John Wayne — if he were still alive — would be the perfect fit for the role of Burns Marcus, the main character in the book.
In the old west, a brand not only identified a ranch’s cattle, it was a symbol of pride and loyalty for its cowboys. “He rides for the brand,” was the highest compliment a cowboy could receive. It meant he exhibited the highest degree of loyalty and dedication to his work and the ranch. Fred’s organization is a client of mine and I can tell you without reservation that Fred rides for the brand.
Creating a purpose-driven organization requires a lot of changes and in this particular meeting we were discussing changes that would completely change Fred’s role in the company. Keep in mind, Fred has been with this company a long time and here he was participating in a discussion that would eliminate most of what he had been doing during his tenure. After we had outlined the new job description for Fred, I turned to him and asked, “Fred, what would you say about a position like the one we’ve just described?” His response was priceless, “I’d say it was recreational.” That’s the best definition of a perfect job fit I’ve ever heard.
Jobs in a purpose-driven organization should be recreational. Now, this doesn’t mean they should be easy or without challenge. We consider things like hunting, fishing or playing golf to be recreational. Ask people about their best days in these endeavors and they will tell you it was when they felt challenged to the limit. They came home feeling like they had been “rode hard and put up wet” but were ready to get up the next morning and do it all over again. The key to creating recreational jobs is to help people find the perfect job fit — one where they know they are fulfilling their purpose in life and contributing their unique talents and abilities to helping the organization fulfill its purpose. When that happens, everyone is riding for the brand and when you have everyone riding for the brand you will have the model organization of the 21st century.
The last time I was in Fred’s office there was a picture of him — which I learned had been doctored by the company’s director of communications — taped to his door. Designed with humor in mind some text had been added: “When your best just isn’t good enough…try new and improved Fred!” I smiled and thought, Fred’s not new and improved but his role is. Fred has always given his best but he’ll be even better in his new recreational job. If my book ever gets made into a movie, Fred needs to play a role — because like John Wayne, Fred is all about Riding for the Brand.
Copyright © 2010 Jim Whitt Purpose Unlimited 918.494.0009
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