The Parable of the Crappie Jigs

We had two team members: Adam, who had been with us three years, hard worker, dependable and always completed his assigned tasks. The other, Tom, was with us for six months — extremely innovative, demonstrated the ability to learn fast and seemed to always be exceeding expectations. Both were being considered for promotion to supervisor and Adam was even requesting the promotion.

I recommended we promote Tom to supervisor and keep Adam at senior associate. My management team said no, we can’t do that. First of all, Adam has three times the seniority. He is very dependable. Why would you even consider this? 

Please have a seat and let me demonstrate. 

I called Adam in first.

Me:             Adam, I am taking a client fishing today on Enid Lake and I left my tackle box of crappie jigs at my camp in Vicksburg.  I have meetings stacked up through lunch until 2 p.m. when I need to leave. Would you mind taking this $40 and going to buy some jigs for us to fish with this afternoon at Enid Lake?

Adam showed back up in 30 minutes.

Me:              Where did you go to get the jigs as he handed me an open plastic shopping bag with a few jigs in it?

Adam:         There’s a little bait shop real close by so I just ran down there.” 

Me:             What kind of jigs did you buy?

Adam:         Well, there wasn’t a very big selection so I just started picking a few until I spent your $40.  Here you go.” 

Me:             Thanks, Adam.

Then I called Tom in.

Me:             Tom, I am taking a client fishing today on Enid Lake and I left my tackle box of crappie jigs at my camp in Vicksburg.  I have meetings stacked up through lunch until 2 p.m. when I need to leave. Would you mind taking this $40 and going to buy some jigs to fish with this afternoon at Enid Lake?  

Tom:           Sure! 

Tom was back in an hour with a plastic box with the jigs.

Me:             Where did you go to get the jigs?

Tom:           Well I know how much you love to fish and I know you want our client to catch some fish, so I asked a fishing buddy of mine where the closest place was with the best selection of crappie jigs. He said to go to Bass Pro Shop.  Wow, did they have a ton of jigs! All different colors and sizes. They had a big sale going on, too.

Me:             What kind of jigs did you buy?

Tom:           Well you said you were going to Enid Lake, so I simply googled the latest fishing reports and it said the crappie were hitting the black/chartreuse jigs and the orange heads were getting the best action.  So I got those colors and a few others for you to try. The guy at bass pro suggested the 1/16 and 1/32 ounce so I got a mixture of orange ones. I noticed this plastic jig box was on sale for a dollar so I grabbed it so you would have something to carry the jigs with you today without them getting all tangled up. 

I turned to the management team, see?

Adam sees everything as a task with little meaning or purpose. He did not see a way to have an impact, demonstrate creativity or leadership. Adam is driven by getting the task done and motivated by position and money. While Tom demonstrates a real desire to serve. He saw a purpose and the ability to make a difference for our client even though he was not “on stage.” He was collaborative, resourceful, creative and demonstrated leadership. Tom had a mindset to be the best team member he could be. 

I use the parable of the crappie jigs to illustrate why we must look beyond years of service and experience and look to passion, leadership, strategic thinking, collaboration, learning capability and creativity. These skills will carry us forward, doing what we have always done will not.   

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Topics: Leadership, Forward Thinking, Anticipatory, Client Service

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