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LEAVING A THUMBPRINT ON THE WORLD

fields often have Hero organizational cultures in which all are valued as long as they produce, but the moment they fail, they are out. Consequently, these firms often burn people out through unflagging demands that they perform at a high (and perhaps unreasonable) level and the expectation that good employees remain stoic performance machines. It may make sense to do whatever it takes, as long as it takes, if you are on the battlefield, but such expectations can be harmful in the corporate world. Soldiers always get R & R, but lawyers in high-pressure firms often do not. Crusaders in mission-driven nonprofits, moreover, may drive themselves equally hard. Over time, the results of unremitting demands can breed heart attacks, cause depression, and undermine families (and, if children are neglected, eventually, also whole communities). Well-developed, healthy Hero organizations, however, develop winning employees and teams, much as a good coach manages and directs the efforts of a sports team. It is expected that goals and standards will be met, but good employees are well compensated, well trained, and highly valued. Consequently, they take care of themselves and one another. People share a sense of pride in being part of a winning operation, and a commitment to quality guides their actions. The highest-level Hero organizations are also principled and have clearly articulated convictions that inform practice and are not just rhetoric. Virtually all Hero organizations are good at motivating people (like coaches firing up the team for victory) and releasing energy by convincing people of the importance of winning in the economic contest. Employees who sign onto the organizational mission generally have a strong sense that their efforts matter and that, whatever happens, they should not let their team down. Originally, the U.S. Postal service was a heroic brand par excellence—“Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night” could keep the mail from being delivered. Unfortunately, this heroic identity was not adequately maintained. Fred Smith, the founder of Federal Express, got the idea in the mid-1960s for an overnight delivery service when he was a student at Yale. When he wrote a paper about it, his professor gave him a C on the basis that the idea was not feasible. Smith knew about the Hero’s perseverance. Born with a congen-

Profile for Lewis Lafontaine

Mack, Margaret - Hero and Outlaw Archetype  

Mack, Margaret - Hero and Outlaw Archetype  

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