Freebird is the signature song written and performed by southern rock legends Lynard Skynard.
The opening lyrics are as follows. “If I leave here tomorrow would you still remember me? For I must be travelin’ on now there’s too many places I got to see.”
When interviewed, members of the band explained the song represents the feelings many people have in their lives. Feeling trapped, stifled, stuck. Why the song resonates with so many people is they too want to be as free as a bird.
Tony Hsieh, the famous, and in some circles infamous, CEO of Zappos has received some mixed press regarding his company’s willingness to pay employees a chunk of money to leave. Walk out the door. Quit. No questions asked.
This decision is brilliant both intellectually and metaphorically.
Intellectual Brilliance: Considering people are one of the greatest expenses organizations carry on their profit and loss statements, it only makes sound sense to encourage the unhappy employees to move on.
It’s been my experience employees fall into one of three buckets.
- Jazzed – Passionate, constructive, optimistic, have positive energy and actively engages in making a difference
- Jobbers – Generally neutral, goes along to get along, does not make waves while doing a good job, will align with boss, “the job is the job”
- Jaded – Generally cynical, negative, unsupportive, complains, blames, glass is half empty, victim mind-set
Hsieh, and every other engaged executive, knows full well that those who are Jaded underperform and potentially poison the attitudes of those around them. Hsieh simply concluded, it was less expensive and more inspiring to incent the Jaded to leave while respecting and honoring those that want to stay.
Metaphorical Brilliance: Many, if not most people share a common desire; to be free. To fly as free as a bird, to soar as high or low as you desire, when you desire to do it. To push the limits and challenge one’s full potential.
Richard Bach in his classic book Jonathan Livingston Seagull captured the essence beautifully. Once, one breaks through a self-imposed barrier, that person is quick to fly even higher. Through continued freedom, one becomes not only a master but then yearns to help others become the same.
Leaders at all levels of organizations must make a conscious choice to become Freebirds; to willingly commit to become the best they can be while incenting those around them to express and experience the same. Tony Hsieh understands this. He consciously surrounds himself with eagles.
What kinds of “birds” are in your company?
How are you showing up everyday? Are you pushing yourself and those around you to soar?
Remember, you can’t make a chicken fly regardless of how hard you try. Maybe it’s time you begin incenting Freebirds.
Building Company Beliefs that Sustain Success
2015 Inland Empire’s Top Workplaces Celebration
Riverside Convention Center
3637 Fifth Street, Riverside, CA 92501
Thursday, December 10, 2015
5:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Tony has produced extraordinary results in diverse business settings for over 25 years. As a fractional CEO, COO or VP Sales, Tony collaborates with business owners, CEOs and executive teams in small to mid-market companies.
Core focus areas include: