It took me a few days to analyze what I had observed. I couldn’t determine if it was the wonderful musical experience, the fantastic music, Adam Cohen’s skill as performer or the exuberance of being out for an evening without kids that was energizing me. But it suddenly dawned on me. I had just witnessed exactly what I hope every person working in their job can have the opportunity to experience: flow and optimization.
On stage, I saw the most tangible experience of a high functioning team that I have ever seen. I can’t prove it quantitatively, but I saw what a successful organisation looks like. I could see Adam playing a strong, charismatic leadership role, but with zero grandstanding. His leadership was earned leadership, not forced. He was continually checking in with his band. I saw him caring for the experience of everyone that was participating in the event. His band, the audience, the sound crew – everyone was playing a vital role. It was so much more than the music. Adam’s care and intentionality was so evident in the energy he projected, and that energy was clearly reciprocated. I could see respect and pride in each of the band member’s faces. His gratefulness to his audience was bouncing back to him, feeding the band. I saw every member of the band looking like they were the happiest people on the planet to be up there doing their job on the stage. I felt that enthusiasm ripple through the crowd, like a wave. It was like a kitchen party with my closest friends, instead of a crowd of hundreds of strangers.
And that is the magic that can happen when a group of people with shared purpose, brilliant cohesion,fluid leadership, and focused intent gets together. It is powerful. I realized that this has inspired me and reawakened my interest about organisational health and excellence in a very tangible way. I believe that this experience is exactly what I want to help others recreate within their organisational systems. I believe it is possible to create this kind of energy in any organisation and any environment.
Why can’t all organisations be like this? Shifting belief.
The main barrier I see is that often organisational leaders don’t believe that it is possible to create this energizing and optimal situation. They don’t believe that staff and workers could ever get this excited while working. They can’t even imagine it, and that stops them. I know, because part of my rational mind mocks my own belief. Consequently, people accept mediocrity. This limiting belief system means they stop trying, or stop trying very hard. But the truth is, I think people desperately want to have this experience. Who wouldn’t want to wake up in the morning excited and energized to go to work? Luckily for us, there are plenty of tools to grow and inspire this kind of energy in organisation, and you don’t need to know all the answers. What you do need to do is shift toward believing it is possible.
And it is easy to look at someone like Adam, and say to yourself “no way, I can’t do that”. Yes, he has exceptional innate leadership qualities. Yes, he has charisma. Yes, he has wisdom. Yes, his dad clearly rubbed off on him. But I believe what he has developed more of is philosophy. I could see his philosophy in the way he smiled encouragement to the sound crew. At the way he honoured his team. At his humbleness and appreciation to the crowd. In the way he engaged. And philosophy is something that can be learned by anyone. A person with a rock solid philosophy always acts authentically in keeping with their beliefs. What Adam created, and how he behaved, was a consequence of what he believed.
Today is Leonard Cohen week at CBC, I want to say thank you Leonard Cohen, for producing Adam, and for the influence he may have had. Thank you Adam, for your dedication and philosophy, and for showing me, and the world, what can happen when you combine passion, care and intentionality for the betterment of the whole. He proved that a high functioning organisation is possible.
PS. Get the album. It is fantastic!