A Member Of The Herd

I like bison. The American Bison is the largest mammal in North, Central and South America. In 2016 it was named the National Mammal of the United States and the Bison has been the State Mammal of Oklahoma since 1972. When I tell people I want to have bison they usually say, “Aren’t they hard to contain?” Which gives me a chance to tell them some interesting things about Bison….

Yes, they can be difficult to contain. A full grown male bison weighs about 2000 lbs, can reach speeds of over 35 mph, and can jump a 6 ft fence from a standing position. So, if they want to leave, it can be a challenge to prevent them from doing so. It is therefore pretty important to understand what would make them want to leave. Or maybe it would be better to know what would make them want to stay.

Bison need three things to be content.

They need food and water. Bison basic needs stuff. When early settlers saw the great herds of bison moving across the plains, they were moving to find more food. If bison aren’t getting their basic needs met, they will search until they are.

They need to feel safe. Bison aren’t afraid of much. Although bison have few natural predators because of their size, wolves, mountain lions and bears do attack the very young or very old bison. Historically, we are their most formidable enemy. If bison feel threatened, they may try to leave.

They need community. Bison don’t like to be alone. I have read that the minimum herd size is 5-7 individuals, but herds can include hundreds or even thousands of bison. Being in a herd is protection, comfort, and company—it is part of what it means to be a bison. If bison are alone they will seek out other bison.

This is the part where you say, “Bison sound a lot like people.”

You would be right. We need all those things too. We need our basic needs met. We need to feel safe. We need community. When we have those things, we feel valued and cared for. There are a number of ways that our “herd” can communicate that we are valued by what they do and say. Over the next two months I want to talk about some ways we as leaders can communicate and tangibly demonstrate to those we serve that we care. We want to INSPIRE the people we are responsible for by:

Illuminating the vision
Nurturing with encouragement
Sharing the prosperity of the company
Providing opportunities for people to grow
Investing in what matters to them
Respecting and listening to give people a voice
Establishing a safe environment

When we do these things, the people we lead will feel valued (because they are) and they in turn will have the resources (mental, emotional and physical) to value the people in their lives in tangible ways. That sounds like a herd I would like to belong to. That sounds like The Kimray Way.