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How my new favorite movie ties into teamwork and leadership

I have fallen in love with the recent biopic of Freddie Mercury and Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody (Twentieth Century Fox, 2018).  I have always loved Freddie Mercury, to me, he was a person that I just wanted to have coffee with.  He seemed personable, funny, of course super talented and not afraid to be different and stand out.  My perception of him could be completely wrong, but somehow, I doubt it. 

                The movie resonated with me, because of the background of the Queen band members.  All of them were educated and very intellectual, which is not the usual recipe for a rock band.  However, all that brain power didn’t make them exempt from the emotional swirling that inevitably happens when being a part of a close-knit team.  Living, breathing, working and eating together the majority of a 24-hour cycle can be challenging to say the least.  On the flip side, no matter how much your trusted team irritates you, when you don’t have them, you feel it. 

                Not unlike Queen, workplace teams are very similar, in my experience.  They work closely together on a daily basis; they need to be in sync with each other to orchestrate workflow, maximize production and get the best results possible.  Like Queen in the movie, or a family, or a work team, they are their best when they are functioning effectively together.  Poorly functioning or under functioning teams have issues and one person can change the whole pallet of a team.  That one person may influence in a positive way or not so positive way, but regardless, one person cannot be the team.  This is important to note, because a team cannot be built around one person; it must be made of engaged and committed individuals.  This is critical and maybe even more so, when there is a super performer on the team; wonderful to have a superstar, but again one person cannot carry a team.

                In the movie, there is a scene when Freddie decides to move away from the band and try it alone; resentment, turmoil and drama erupt.  Once he is on his own, he comes to realize he needs his band mates and he tells his band members when he was working with other musicians, they did exactly what he wanted.  There was no push back, challenges, critical feedback or anything, they just did as they were told.  Let’s dissect this as related to work teams.    

                At first blush, having a team do everything you want them to do sounds magical.  However, let’s think about what that would really look like.  The team never expressing opinions, never having respectful discourse, never asking questions or professionally challenging ideas or processes; what kind of a team is that?  I would challenge that it is a team at all; it is more reflective of a group of people who work in the same place.  Employees, band members, and the like, who don’t speak their truths, don’t question ideas and concepts, don’t participate in solutions are not engaged and that can turn quickly to apathy.  As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, apathy kills motivation and potentially sets the company up for real problems, like lost productivity and resigning employees, or in some cases, complete failure.   

                A team that discusses concerns and ideas, challenges their colleagues and leaders, expresses point of views, is a team that will strive for the best results and reach their goals much of the time.  Now, this may not always be easy, because strong personalities can be tough to manage, but in the end, the synergy and energy is there to create something extraordinary, just like Queen did. 

                My new favorite movie reminded me of many important opportunities I have as a leader and a team member.  Understanding my role on the team and as a leader, being engaged with colleagues and employees, listening to feedback openly whether I like it or not, being humble and recognizing when you have the right team and synergy in place, you can push past your differences and achieve greatness together. 

Reference: Bohemian Rhapsody Movie, Twentieth Century Fox, 2018

Disclaimer: the advice in this blog is meant to provide guidance and be thought provoking.  It is the writer’s opinion only.