How do you know that your team will actually deliver something for you? Frankly, how do they know you will do the same for them? It is well known that the number 1 reason someone stays in a job is their relationship with their Boss… and the number one reason they leave is… It is a constant conversation with leaders at all levels, and comes in all flavors but mostly centers on a word that once spoken, freezes a conversation: Trust. I want to engage this week and explore a word that I believe is both easier to use, and one that can also bring some complexity worth the hassle – Faith.
For many believers around the world, this week we engage in one of the most important in our walk of Faith. For the Jewish faith, we have just gone past Passover, celebrating the Faith they have that their people will be delivered by God. And the Christian faith started a holy week beginning with Palm Sunday yesterday that will end on Sunday with Easter. So what role does Faith play in leadership? I think a lot, more than most will acknowledge… until things are not working well…
The first band that came to mind with Faith as a backdrop is U2. You may not know but 3 of the 4 engage actively in their faith, as you will see subtly through the next few weeks, and in a great book, Walk On. The band was started with a note asking for musicians to show up for an audition posted on a bulletin board at Mount Temple School in 1976. In Dublin, the school was established to provide education to the Protestants under the Archbishop of the Church of Ireland and was founded as a charity in the late 1700s.
Seven kids showed up for the audition, and eventually, 5 would remain and start to practice after Youth Group in the basement. It was originally named for the kid that wrote the note, but even he admitted that lasted “… about 10 minutes, then Paul walked in and blew any chance I had of being in charge”. They developed a good work ethic around music, and after realizing that many of the bands in the late ‘70s (The Clash, Sex Pistols, Buzzcocks) were mostly making it on hype, they figured they could try that also. After trying on a few names, they went through six suggestions, and settled on the one we now know because “we liked the ambiguity, and frankly, it was the one we all disliked the least”.
They picked up some interest from the local record company agents in Dublin for their shows that brought amazing energy to their music. They eventually won a local St. Patrick’s Day talent show, with a chance to record in a studio, and went in with a few of their original songs. No one explained how it would work – each of them in separate rooms, with baffles between them for recording “purity” – and being so much a “live” band they had real trouble. And then Larry’s dad arrived at 11 pm – to pick up his 15-year-old who had school the next day … as they all did 😉
The guitar player had gotten good enough they only need one, so his older brother, now in college, dropped out of the band, leaving us with the 4 you know. From that recording session they were able to salvage 3 songs – enough for a 7 inch EP – an odd format that is the size of a 45 but plays at the album speed of 33 ⅓. Today’s song was written on Paul’s 18th birthday and was one of the 3 from that “first” record that was released. It sold all 1000 copies that were made in 1979, and went to number 19 on the Irish charts, and engaged their meteoric rise…
When you engage in the role of leading, in whatever space you are in, there is a certain assumption that you make. First, that you mostly understand what you are being asked to do. Second, that you have a group of people to do it with. And third, that you actually believe that when you engage, you will be able to do it. Each of those steps – every one of them – and all of the interactions you have daily, are all based on Faith. Maybe not in a higher power, but certainly in something you can’t guarantee. None of those three steps have any guarantee – they are all your own Statement of Faith.
In the middle of this song, there is a break where the music drops away, and the bass drum brings the rhythm through to the ending. In each of the early recording sessions, the drummer kept having trouble keeping time… sorta basic for a drummer. It is why you HAVE a drummer. The producer came to the other members of the band and said, not for the last time by the way, “… you guys could be something if you got another drummer”. Without missing a beat, Paul – who you know as Bono clearly said, “Well, that won’t work. It’s Larry’s band”… the kid that wrote the original note, on the far left of the picture. Their Faith in Larry is why we have this amazing music to this day. As we engage in this week of Faith, what are you doing to ensure your team, and you are aligned and not… Out of Control.