- Tom Silva
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What Rock Band, U2, Can Teach You About Building a Corporate Culture
The Grammy Award-winning Irish rock band U2 is an excellent case history in how to create a powerful culture of connection. This is the opinion of Michael Lee Stallard and Jason Pankau, partners in E Pluribus Partners, the world’s leading experts on how rational and emotional connections can boost productivity, innovation and organizational performance in the workplace.
In a recent interview for the Alter NOW Podcasts, Stallard and Pankau trace U2’s culture of connection back to the time when Bono’s mother died suddenly when he was just 14. Because his father was so grief-stricken, he was unable to console his son, leaving Bono to grieve alone – a very difficult process for an adolescent. When his friend and fellow band member Larry Mullen, Jr.’s mother died, Bono consoled his friend and created a lifetime bond with him.
That culture of connection has stayed with Bono throughout his adult life. When Edge’s went through a divorce, the band members rallied around their friend to help him through a difficult time. Later, Adam Clayton started abusing drugs and alcohol. Instead of abandoning him, U2 decided that no one gets left behind, and the band supported his rehabilitation process. A death threat was made against Bono because he planned to sing “Pride (In The Name Of Love)” – a song about Martin Luther King – in Arizona. During the song, Clayton stood in front of his Bono to shield his friend. Clayton literally was willing to take a bullet for Bono.
U2 is an extremely close band, powerfully crystallized in the fact that they and their long-time manager split all profits five equal ways, which is unusual and makes all members feel equally valued.
Stallard also talked about the connection culture that permeated the unit at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center where his wife underwent treatment several years ago. Later – and at the Stallard’s recommendation – a friend went to Sloan Kettering but was treated in a different unit where the atmosphere was completely different. The result was a far less pleasant experience and proof that culture emanates from the ground level.
To listen to Michael Lee Stallard’s and Jason Pankau’s full interview on how U2 represents a culture of connection, click here. To sign up for Michael Lee Stallard’s and Jason Pankau’s newsletter and receive a free digital download of their book, click here.