Want Something? Pull Together

by Alli Polin on April 16, 2013

Achieve Shared Goals When Teamwork Pulls Together

Anyone remember middle school or high school in the 1980’s?  My memory?  Cool clothes, big hair and great music.  Looking back today I think that the big hair holds true, the clothes are debatable and I still love the music.

One memory I have from middle school in 1984 was when a local radio station in Philadelphia, WMMR, had a contest to get the Hooters to come and give a concert at a local high school.  All we had to do was write the radio station on one side of a 3×5 card and “Hooters Rock WMMR” on the other side and send the cards to the local radio station.  Turns out that this contest became a phenomenon, 52 schools participated and over 26 million cards were sent to the station.  Every single person I knew was obsessed with writing the cards and securing one of the top five spots in the contest.  You’ll be happy to know in early 1985, before the Hooters played Live Aid, they played in my high school gym and I was there to enjoy the experience.

What does a Hooters concert have to do with today’s business world or leadership?

Simple: We pulled together, focused on a common goal, encouraged each other to do our part, and we had fun while doing it, not just at the end.   That’s definitely a mirror for the components of great leadership and inspiring work.

Truth: We can accomplish much more together than we can alone.

Magic Formula to Inspire People To Pull Together?

Here are three of the key ingredients:

Vision

The long-term vision for your team, division and organization should be dynamic and inspiring ~ a call to action, painting a picture of a shared goal.  What does that really mean?  Use words that mean something, are not generic, and speak to the heart and soul of your people and your business.  Why do you exist?  Make employees feel something and want to act.  If your vision statement is consultant speak, you have to read it five times to figure out what the heck it means, or could apply to absolutely any company in any industry you’ve got some work to do.

Which one do you find more compelling?

“We will satisfy every customer through consistently high service, quality leadership, and innovative products. “

“There will be a personal computer on every desk running Microsoft software.”

Fun

Who likes to go to work for a minimum of eight hours, do crappy work, eat at your desk, no passion, no connection, no fun?  Not me and I’m guessing not you either.  Fun doesn’t have to mean parties and potlucks daily.  Writing a zillion 3×5 cards was not fun work but we did it as a team, which actually made it both fun and motivating.  How can you build fun into your team experience?

Ask yourself:

  • Does everyone sit in their office with their door closed?
  • When was the last time you shook things up from the daily routine?
  • Is your culture open to a little silliness?
  • How can you craft opportunities to create connections between silos?
  • Have you thought about how even some bare-bones gamification could positively impact the work that you’re doing today?

You Matter

Whether on the same team or colleagues across divisions we all make a difference and those differences and contributions should be recognized.  I can’t do what you do as skillfully as you, and not everyone can do what I do well.  Unless we pull together, all give 100% effort, we can’t meet our goals and make the difference that we’re driven to make.  We are both needed!  It doesn’t matter if one person has manager after their name and one does not; you matter, I matter, we all matter.   

There are many other ingredients to helping our teams and organizations pull together to successfully achieve shared goals including motivation, inspiration, creativity to name a few.  I love that one of my first large-scale experiences with achieving shared goals taught me so many lessons that now are a part of the soundtrack of my life and personal leadership.

What will you add to the list?  While you’re at it, leave your favorite band from the 80’s in your comment too. 

(Photo credit)

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike Cowan April 16, 2013 at 8:29 am

Alli, I enjoyed this read this morning, I was responsible for a team across Canada and we needed to get results. I wish I had this article to share back then, it may have made the team a little closer.

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Alli Polin April 16, 2013 at 7:22 pm

Many thanks, Mike! I’ve worked with distributed teams and it’s definitely a challenge to get them to think, move, and connect as one. Sounds like an interesting experience! Appreciate your feedback and your comment too.

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Blair April 16, 2013 at 8:31 am

My favorite band from the 80s? How can I pick just one? Thanks for Sharing the Hooters story as an example of moving together towards a shared vision and making a dream come true. I especially like the addition of having fun. In my experience, a little silliness goes a long way.

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Alli Polin April 16, 2013 at 7:22 pm

Too many leaders are afraid of a little silliness. You can still get serious business done while having fun! Thanks, Blair.

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Karen Jolly April 16, 2013 at 10:28 am

Great article Alli – “Vision, Fun and You Matter” should be the keystone to every company’s leadership. Image how many would want to pull together with that kind of energy!! (And I loved the music too – but please don’t remind me of those awful poofy bangs I had in the 80’s!!!) :)

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Alli Polin April 16, 2013 at 7:26 pm

Karen – I’d want to work there! You really hit on something that’s missing too frequently – energy… That’s exactly what those three qualities bring to the organization. Just picturing my hair from the 80’s makes me want to hide my old yearbooks from my kids! Thanks so much for adding your insights here!

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Terri Klass April 16, 2013 at 11:04 am

Great post, Alli! Vision, fun and you matter do make for incredible teamwork success. I think leaders sometimes forget the fun element, which can really motivate individuals, especially during a grueling project. Breaking up the monotony by doing an activity together, can re-energize people and actually help create a more trusting environment. Thanks Alli!

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Alli Polin April 16, 2013 at 7:28 pm

Terri – I agree! Fun can be motivating but it’s often seen as a distraction instead of something that can be a part of the culture. Thanks for bringing up the issue of trust too and how fun and connection actually increases trust. You can’t buy trust with bonuses… Always appreciate your feedback and insights!

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Johann Gauthier April 16, 2013 at 4:33 pm

Great to see you back in full action mode Alli !
Delivering yet another great post. I particularly like when personal experiences are used to convey key messages. Makes things even more meaningful and creates a great connexion.
Bravo, thanks for being such an inspiration for us all on a daily basis !
Johann

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Alli Polin April 16, 2013 at 7:30 pm

Thanks, Johann! I’m THRILLED to be back with a site that’s healthy. I also love to read about people’s real-lives that bring real-leadership experiences to light. You always do that too, my friend! Many thanks for your kind words – I’m touched.

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Sharon Rigney April 17, 2013 at 12:39 am

Alli- I remember that WMMR contest and can even picture myself filling out those index cards & sending them in! What a feeling when those efforts paid off & the concert actually happened. The Hooters were such a spirit-lifting draw back then in the Philly area. You felt like you knew them. They made us as fans feel appreciated and part of the fun, and we were excited to see them succeed. How wonderful would it be to generate that kind of excitement and teamwork in the workplace? Probably pretty amazing! Seems that sometimes it takes a blast-from-the-past to propel us forward!

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Alli Polin April 17, 2013 at 12:58 am

Sharon! How funny that you remember that contest too! It’s true, the Hooters had a very special place in Philadelphia. It felt like they were a part of the local experience even when they were big on the national scene.

WOW – if organizations could bottle that energy, excitement and teamwork I could only imagine what would be possible. So few organizations seem to really capture it but it’s within reach of many more that are willing to invest in making their culture and org a Great Place to Work.

Appreciate your comments and you made me smile that I’m not the only one that remembers that experience.

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Sharon Rigney April 17, 2013 at 11:20 am

I haven’t thought about that concert in years. Thank YOU for the lovely and motivating trip back in time. Apparently we went to the same high school :).

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Alli Polin April 17, 2013 at 11:17 pm

Too funny! At least we were both in the greater Philadelphia area in the 80s! I still look back fondly on walking along South Street, concerts at the Mann Music Center and still have a very sweet spot in my heart for Philly.

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Jon Mertz April 17, 2013 at 6:54 am

Alli,

In this all, real stories unfold and so we need to keep vision-fun-you-matter all together. In the 1980s, Tracy Chapman sprung into the music scene and she represented some of that real story element. I remember seeing her open for 10,000 Maniacs. I am not sure what this all means other than things can get a little crazy at times and we need to remember the mantra here!

Thanks!

Jon

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Alli Polin April 17, 2013 at 7:49 am

I totally get it. :) What it also reminds me is about the feeling of community I have when I hear live music. In my youth, I used to go to a lot of concerts. Music, like a strong vision, calls us forth to a shared experience. By the way, I love Tracy Chapman and 10,000 Maniacs.

I always appreciate your comments and insights, Jon. Many thanks!

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Lalita Raman April 17, 2013 at 10:31 am

Alli welcome back. Excellent points raised by you. Fun and You Matter is often forgotten by many people in their eagerness to achieve their goals or vision. Seniority many times is associated with a cabin, closed doors and not being with the team and people who matter. Every leader should encourage people who question, shake things up and have fun at the same time.

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Alli Polin April 17, 2013 at 11:18 pm

Lalita – You’re right… in the push for immediate results fun is one of the first things to drop off the list. Also, excellent point for all leaders that it’s the team that makes things happen – not a bunch of smart and powerful leaders behind closed doors. Many thanks, Lalita!

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Donna Merrill April 17, 2013 at 12:16 pm

Hey Alli,

I think sharing vision would be important, especially getting to people’s emotions. Making them feel the fun of the vision. Assuring them that they all play a key roll. Keeping things upbeat and silly sometimes will get others to react.

My Fav from the 80’s Hmmm there are many but I have to say that Depeche Mode was one of my favorites! This is a fine example of the fun of the call to action!
Donna

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Alli Polin April 17, 2013 at 11:15 pm

Donna – You really hit on something so important – connecting emotion to the vision. If it’s something that we just all nod and say we get it, there is no real passion or drive behind it. Silly can feel uncomfortable for some and just right to others. We all spend too much time at work to make it dreary though… a little fun and lightness can help us move through even the most difficult of assignments with more joy and ease.

I loved Depeche Mode in the 80’s! I can still remember going to one of their concerts and seeing someone dressed as a zombie bride with dead flowers walking towards the stage to give them to the band. I wonder how she looks back on that moment now!?

Many thank for your comment and insights!

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Amber-Lee Dibble April 17, 2013 at 5:27 pm

This was great, Alli and you know I am a huge Team lover.
Ugh. The 80’s? I try really really hard to forget about that whole decade. I was the fat ugly “Hoss”. I HATED school and worked 50 hours a week on top of being in sports. I would skip school (when I could get away with it!) just to go to work, where I was someone who wasn’t picked on and made fun of. Work, I was good at that. (I was good at the sports too..)
I don’t do well with remembering names or stuff like that…(my strokes have eliminated most of them) BUT! I do remember one of my favorite songs! It was the number one song in 1984… do YOU remember? (no cheating!!LOL)
…Juke Box Hero

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Alli Polin April 17, 2013 at 11:12 pm

I admit I totally cheated went to iTunes to find Juke Box Hero and now remember the chorus. High school is a hard time for too many people… I know I had my ups and downs. Not ready for my own children to go to HS… good thing they’re still way to young. You consistently share amazing perspectives about leadership and teamwork… won’t look for any reflecting back to High School from you anytime soon ;) Thanks so much Amber-Lee!

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Mike Brown April 17, 2013 at 10:27 pm

Great post… We all need tomake sure there is a little silliness in the office… I remember seeing the Hooters, my freshman year on the Rutgers campus… and yes – I still listen to WMMR

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Alli Polin April 17, 2013 at 11:08 pm

A little silly once in a while goes a long way. So glad to hear that WMMR is still going strong!

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Callie ~ Playfull Genie Muse April 19, 2013 at 4:31 am

I love this article, Alli – playfullness and fun is such a powerful motivator AND great tool for developing compassion and kindness within a team! Add together Vision and You Matter = powerful combination to elevate your team to truly inspiring movement and greatness!

I was a huge fan of Duran Duran and The Cure ;)

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Alli Polin April 19, 2013 at 7:34 am

Thank you, Callie! I admire the playfulness and creativity that you bring to the world and am so appreciative that you have stopped by here! Fun and playfulness surely builds bonds and yes, compassion too.

I’ve seen Duran Duran and The Cure in concert too! Love ‘em. All of this thinking about music I used to love makes me wish I had more live music in my life these days!

Many thanks!

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