What Leaders Could Learn from Jed Clampett

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If you happen to be more than about 100 years old, you may remember the classic tv show The Beverly Hillbillies.

What you may not recall is the timeless leadership truth contained in the show’s hilarious pilot episode.

Jed Clampett was simply out on his property one day, up in the hills of Tennessee, and as he was shootin’ at some food, then up from the ground come a bubblin’ crude. (“Oil that is…black gold…Texas tea”…If you’re humming along already, you’re definitely from the boomer generation.)

ClampettsSoon he found himself to be a multi-millionaire, and his ‘kin-folk’ began trying to explain that he no longer had to live the way he was used to. “Just look at this place!” a cousin exclaimed, while looking around his tumble-down shack. “You’re 50 miles from your nearest neighbour, you’re over-run with skunks and possums, you cook on a wood stove…”

Thoughtfully Jed replied, “Yep, I reckon you’re right. A feller’d be a darn fool to give up all this…”

Poor ol’ Jed just couldn’t see that what he was clinging to was preventing his family from moving forward to something better.

Similarly, effective leaders I know have a knack for discerning what needs to be jettisoned, in order to move their organizations forward.

Are you clinging too tightly to anything that could be preventing the forward movement of your organization? Here’s a simple discernment exercise. Imagine someone on your team pointing out any of the following, and honestly ask yourself how you would respond.

  • “We haven’t updated our org chart in 5 years…”
  • “We spend very little time learning best-practices from other organizations…”
  • “We seem stuck in an old pattern of doing things…We’re not generating results like we did before…”

If your inner Jed Clampett is saying, “Yep…a feller’d be a darn fool to give up all this,” you may be clinging too tightly ‘the old ways’.

In your leadership, how do you discern when it’s time for a fresh approach?

the author

Scott Cochrane

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