A few weeks ago one of my best friends and I saw a fave band of mine from the early 2000’s – CAKE. They played at an outdoor venue where you had to stand for the entire show. There were 3 rows of “VIP seats,” but they stood as well. The band was tight and their musicianship was astonishing !!
The people who came to see CAKE were anxious for them to hit the stage. You could hear the hum of a murmur wondering when we’d see the band. Now, if you aren’t familiar with their music, they’re truly unique. The band has a lead singer who “sings” while sometimes talking through the songs and playing a rhythm guitar. The lead guitarist is a genius who drops incredible hooks while strumming every note. A bassist and a drummer provided a solid background foundation for each tune. Their work blended in seamlessly. In addition, there’s a true artist who plays a solo trumpet, keyboard, and ancillary percussion. He’s amazing !!
Everyone throughout the venue sang all the songs we knew and if you stumbled through the lyrics, your fellow concertgoers didn’t care and didn’t correct you. The idea of having a shared experience was far more the focus than being accurate or correct. If you swayed or madly danced, it was fine. Everyone was in sync. The lead singer led several crowd sing-a-longs with ease. He didn’t have to coerce the masses to perform. They were eager for the opportunity !!
You’ll have to trust me that when he split the crowd in two to sing the fab song – Sick of You – it was magic. People who would most likely never sing in public or take a stage belted out their part with ease. Men and women, younger and older, fans or curious concert attendees sang. Not one person stood there quietly. Not. One.
Now, this isn’t a concert review. It’s an observation.
What if we could make our company culture have this same vibe ?? Everyone comes to work with anticipation about the day ahead. Your co-workers are geeked to see you and are actually elated that you are. No one harps on mistakes that are made. There’s a sense of camaraderie where people lean in and make sure everyone succeeds.
There’s a “lead singer” who captures the vibe of the workplace and together the organization performs a mix of hits and rare deep cuts. Sound out of reach ?? I don’t think it is. The key is our approach and how we view people. If we could look out on our “crowd” and get them to all sing along, imagine how fulfilling our days would be.
Aren’t you tired of always trying to repair and fix the multitude of factions that break out in the workplace? Is this all you think HR and leadership have to offer? It would be easy to think so because we swim in this mess daily. We’re so used to the constant fragmentation of people we don’t even look for a solution. We just exhale a deep sigh, drop our shoulders, and dive in.
It’s never worked and we may experience minor successes here and there, but it will be short-lived. I think it’s time we took the concert approach and become lead singers in our organizations. We know the songs and we can rally our fellow musicians to play the notes in the correct order to pull everyone together. You can emphasize that they play their part and their instrument because that is the skill and talent they bring to their role and the company.
It’s possible and it works. Time to step up to the microphone, raise your hands, and reach out to the people eager to follow and participate. Take the lead !!
To get you started, here’s a slice of Cake !!