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Excerpted from Connection Culture by Michael Lee Stallard.
U2 began as a rock band that people booed and laughed at. Now,after receiving its 22nd Grammy Award in 2005, U2 has more than any band in history. It recently surpassed the Rolling Stones’s record for the highest revenue grossing concert tour ever. Critics rave over the band’s music, and fans worldwide can’t seem to get enough of its songs and concert appearances. All the signs indicate that U2 is at the top of its game and will be going strong for the foreseeable future. So how did this group rise to such lofty heights, and what can we learn from its success?
The way U2 functions is even more extraordinary than its music. The band’s four members—lyricist and lead singer Bono, lead guitar player “the Edge,” bass guitar player Adam Clayton, and drummer Larry Mullen Jr.—have known one another since they were teenagers in Dublin, Ireland. Bono has described the band as more of an organism than an organization, and several of its attributes contribute to this unique culture. Members value continuous improvement to achieve their own potential, always maintaining the view that they can become even better.
U2’s members share a vision of their mission and values. You might expect a band’s mission to be achieving commercial success as measured by number 1 hits and concert attendance. However, U2’s mission is to improve the world through its music and influence. Bono has described himself as a traveling salesman of ideas within songs, which address themes the band members believe are important to promote, including human rights, social justice, and matters of faith. Bono and his wife, Ali, help the poor, particularly in Africa, through their philanthropy and the organizations they’ve created.
U2’s members value one another as people and don’t just think of one another as means to an end. Bono has said that although he hears melodies in his head, he is unable to translate them into written music. Considering himself a terrible guitar and keyboard player, he relies on his fellow members to help him write the songs and praises them for their talents, which are integral to U2’s success.
Bono has also had his band members’ backs during times of trial. When Larry lost his mom in a car accident a short time after the band was formed, Bono was there to support him. Bono, who had already lost his mother, understood Larry’s pain. When U2 was offered its first recording contract on the condition that it replace Larry with a more conventional drummer, Bono told the record company executive:There’s no deal without Larry. When the Edge went through divorce, his bandmates were there to support him. When Adam showed up to a concert so stoned he couldn’t perform, the others could have thrown him overboard for letting them down. Instead, they had someone step in to cover for him, and then went on to help Adam overcome his drug and alcohol addiction.
Bono’s bandmates have his back too. One of the most vivid examples of this came when U2 campaigned during the 1980s for the observance of a Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the United States. Bono received a death threat that warned him not to sing “Pride (In the Name of Love),” a song about the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., at an upcoming concert. The FBI considered it a credible threat. Bono described in an interview that as he sang the song, he closed his eyes. When he opened his eyes again at the end of a verse, he discovered that Adam was standing in front of him to shield him from potential harm. Years later, when U2 was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Bono thanked Adam for being willing to take a bullet for him.
Unlike many bands in which one megastar gets most of the economic profits, U2 shares its profits equally among the four band members and their long-time manager. This further shows the value Bono has for his band members and manager. (We’re not saying that all organizations should split the company’s economic profits equally; simply recognize that when leaders take too much it works against engaging the people they lead.)
Each member has a voice in decisions, thanks to the band’s participatory, consensus-oriented decision-making approach. If one person strongly opposes a particular action, the band won’t do it, which encourages the flow of knowledge among band members, allowing the best ideas to come to light. Their passion for excellence is also reflected in relentless arguments over their music. Bono has stated that this approach can be slow and frustrating at times, but the members of U2 believe it is necessary to achieve excellence.
These factors—which Connection Culture calls shared identity, empathy, and understanding—create a culture of connection, community, and unity among the members of U2. Bono has described the band as a tight-knit family and community. Their commitment to support one another extends beyond the four members of the band to a larger community that includes their families, crew members, and collabo-rators—many of whom have known each other for decades.
The secret of U2’s success is its leadership and culture. Bono connects as a leader among equals because he communicates an inspiring vision and lives it, he values people as individuals, and he gives them a voice in decision making. It is this culture of vision, value, and voice that has helped U2 achieve and sustain its superior performance. This is a connection culture. In examining how U2 operates we see the influence a connection culture can have on the individual, as well as the group as a whole.
Building a fully engaged, energized workforce is the key to business success. The Power of Thanks reveals how leading companies empower employees through social recognition, in which the practice of mutual appreciation and trust directs and rewards higher performance.
Eric Mosley and Derek Irvine, executives at the world-renowned employee-recognition firm Globoforce, explain why social recognition is so powerful and how you can apply it in your company. They show how a carefully planned and consistently executed Culture of Recognition business strategy inspires greater employee engagement and loyalty; stronger, more unified teams and departments; a creative, innovative company culture; improved customer satisfaction; and increased profitability and organizational health. Mosley and Irvine provide practical advice and proven examples for devising a powerful, growth-generating strategy that modernizes employee recognition for today’s social, global, multi-generational and 24×7-wired workforce.
When employees participate in a culture that makes everyone a stakeholder in the organization’s success, positive energy spreads like wildfire, and business results follow. Something so simple and powerful might work like magic, but it’s really just common sense. It’s smart management. It’s long-term thinking. It’s The Power of Thanks.
IN THIS SUMMARY, YOU WILL LEARN:
• Why culture is central to business success today.
• The difference between social recognition and other forms of appreciation.
• How social recognition creates happier employees and drives ROI and business results.
Not a Soundview Executive Book Summaries subscriber? Then click on the individual title to purchase and download it right now to begin learning these critical business skills.
Consultant and author Paul Stoltz has previously written extensively on adversity, developing what he calls the “Adversity Quotient,” which measures the ability to leverage setbacks and failures into success. Stoltz has more recently discovered, however, that while AQ is essential to success, it is not sufficient. As he explains in his new book, GRIT: The New Science of What It Takes to Persevere – Flourish – Succeed, “If AQ is all about how you effectively deal with ‘it’ — whatever comes at you — then GRIT is about what it takes to really go for ‘it’ — your boldest and most important goals — and make ‘it’ happen.” AQ, he writes, is your defense, but GRIT is your offense.
Stoltz uses the word “GRIT” in two ways. Although consistently in all caps, GRIT is used at the beginning of the book as a word that encapsulates the offensive counterpoint to adversity, as described above. In his second chapter, Stoltz introduces the four dimensions of GRIT, which then becomes both word and acronym. These dimensions are:
Growth. Growth refers to a mindset that is constantly looking for the new and the different. Growth, Stoltz writes, is “your propensity to seek and consider new ideas, additional alternatives, different approaches and fresh perspectives.”
Resilience. The core of Stoltz’s original research and writing, resilience is the ability not only to bounce back from adversity but, more importantly, to make constructive use of the adversity.
Instinct. The focus here, according to Stoltz, is to know instinctively which goals to pursue and how to pursue them.
Tenacity. Most quests are going to be longer and more difficult than anticipated. Tenacity separates those who succeed from those who fail.
Stoltz emphasizes that not all GRIT is good. To help readers visualize the positive and negative facets of GRIT, Stoltz presents his six-faced GRIT grid cube, with opposing faces representing good and bad, smart and dumb, and strong and weak GRIT. Stoltz explores each facet in detail. For example, bad GRIT, he writes, is evident when people relentlessly pursue goals that aim to hurt people, gain benefits at another’s expense or unintentionally pursue a damaging goal. Stoltz cites the example of a humanitarian organization that installed 10 million hand pumps in Bangladesh to help the impoverished population get access to water. Unfortunately, the water pumped up was filled with arsenic.
To exemplify good GRIT, Stoltz offers as an example his wife, Ronda Beaman, who was diagnosed with MS 24 years ago. A personal fitness trainer, Beaman was told, when diagnosed, to slow down, but refused. Twenty-four years later, she is still working out as hard as ever, despite occasional intense pain in her shoulders and weird headaches.
Stoltz offers equally compelling stories of dumb vs. smart and weak vs. strong GRIT. The ultimate goal, he writes, is to achieve “optimal GRIT” — which is, according to Stoltz, “when you consistently and reliably demonstrate your fullest, “goodest,” smartest and strongest GRIT to achieve your goals.”
This definition is expanded later in the book, as Stoltz moves readers to more advanced notions of GRIT. First, he includes what he calls the “four capacities” of GRIT: emotional, mental, physical and spiritual. GRIT must not only be smart, good and strong but also emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually balanced, Stoltz explains. GRIT must also be present in a wide variety of situations (work, school, relationships, money-related situations and more). Finally, GRIT begins with the individual but then moves up what Stoltz labels the “grit ladder,” through the relational, team, organizational and, finally, societal “rungs.”
As Stoltz expands and deepens his definition of optimal GRIT, he describes how to both gauge and grow one’s grit, offering a number of different tools for each. Stoltz is a veteran consultant, whose Adversity and GRIT techniques and tools have been used by Fortune 100 companies around the world and taught in schools as prestigious as the Harvard Business School and MIT — which is why GRIT is not a philosophical treatise but a toolbox for life.
Today’s guest blogger is Dr. Marcia Reynolds, president of Covisioning LLC.
When I teach coaching skills to leaders, someone always asks what to do if a person cries. They usually want to do something that would make the person feel worse for crying. Here are tips for effectively handling emotions that could come up during difficult conversations.
Note: Take the Rate Your Zone of Discomfort quiz to judge your ability to deal with uncomfortable situations.
What if the person cries?
Allow people to take a moment as you calmly wait for them to signal they are ready to move on.
Crying is a natural physiological response when someone feels hurt, sad, or had expectations that weren’t met. Their reaction could result from stress or a buildup of disappointments. Generally, if you tell the person to take her time and calmly sit in silence, she will let you know when she is ready to move on (I say “she” but men cry too). If you have a tissue available, offer it. If the crying is uncontrollable, ask if they would like to reschedule the meeting but only do this as a last resort. It is always better to give the crying person a moment to recoup than to make her feel wrong for crying.
How do you react when someone gets angry?
If you stay calm and listen, their anger usually subsides.
When you sense someone’s anger, you might instantly defend yourself, getting angry in return, or you shut down. If you feel you are at risk of being harmed, you should find a way to remove yourself as soon as possible. If not, give the person a chance to vent to release the steam. Then when he starts to calm down, ask what has made him so angry and sort out what is true from speculation. Then maybe you can find some ways of dealing with the situation so he regains even a small sense of control.
What if a person or a group of people are confused or afraid?
Dig deep to find what they are afraid of losing.
Do not try to diffuse or soften their emotions; better to tell them you would like to understand what is causing the fear so you can help them move forward. What do they feel they have lost or afraid they will lose? Listen to their stories so you can discover what is holding them back. Is the loss real or speculation? What do they need so they can take one step forward? Listen first, then seek to find what will restore their confidence and feeling of significance.
Avoid judging people for their reactions. Respectfully hold them in high regard during a difficult conversation. Recall what you believe they are capable of achieving. From this perspective, you have a chance at holding an amazing conversation that could surprise both of you.
To hear more about effective ways to handle difficult conversations, join us for our Soundview Live webinar with Marcia Reynolds on May 28th: Turning Difficult Conversations into Breakthroughs.
We have just released our latest batch of executive book summaries, and they cover the gamut of business subjects and issues. But they do have one thing in common: they provide critical information to help you stay up on the latest issues and innovations in order to continue to succeed.
The Power of Thanks by Derek Irvine and Eric Mosley
Globoforce executives Eric Mosley and Derek Irvine explain how a Culture of Recognition can boost employee engagement and loyalty, stronger teamwork, a more innovative culture, increased customer satisfaction, as well as greater profitability and organizational health. Ultimately, they show how to build a better workplace for employees.
Leadership Blindspots by Robert Bruce Shaw
Robert Bruce Shaw helps leaders to identify weaknesses, threats and other vulnerabilities that can impair effectiveness, results and even their careers. Shaw reveals how blindspots operate and why they persist, but also provides techniques for recognizing them and taking action before they create lasting damage.
Data-ism by Steve Lohr
New York Times reporter Steve Lohr explains how big-data technology has its benefits and its drawbacks, which raises questions about the wider implications for everyone. Lohr lends insight into what’s ahead, suggesting that individuals and organizations will need to exploit, protect and manage data to stay competitive.
Not a Soundview Executive Book Summaries subscriber? Then click on the individual titles to purchase and download them right now to begin learning these critical business skills.