If The Boss Says 1+1=3, Who's to Argue?

May 03, 2019

Running a private club in this competitive environment seems to be increasingly difficult. Quality employees are more difficult to locate, hire and retain. Member preferences seem to change at a moment’s notice. Costs are ever-increasing. Surely, we can count on the fundamentals of math to keep us grounded and find solutions to our greatest pain points – something as simple as 1 + 1 = 2.

But - what if what separates great clubs involves suspending your belief in math? What if the answer lies in 1 + 1 = 3? Let me explain….

Bruce Springsteen just finished a critically acclaimed “residence” on Broadway and suggests in his tribute to the legendary E Street Band, that the concept of 1 + 1 = 3 is the essential equation of great music (specifically, rock and roll), great art, love and the universe. As he talked about it, I found myself thinking that great clubs should be included in this list with music, art, love and music.

You may be asking “in what universe does 1+1 ever add up to 3?” In concrete, tangible terms it doesn’t, but the concept of 1+1=3 states that it is the intangible, the secret sauce, the mojo; whatever you call it that takes something to the next level and makes it great; so much so that it is greater than the sum of its parts. What makes certain clubs better than the sum of their parts? All clubs have warts, all managers make mistakes, yet the best clubs and managers in the business are associated with organizations and people that produce results that are consistently better than their peers.

 Do these managers work harder, longer hours, or take unfair advantages? No. They do seem to have an ability to bottle lightning and create a culture superior to their competitors. How? They allow individual autonomy, while keeping everyone focused on the long-term goal. These are the managers whose employees want to come to work and are fully engaged at work, because they are mentored and guided by their manager, which we know is a key driver to intrinsic motivation. They create an environment where each team member can bring their unique attributes and greatest strengths and use them while successfully working within a team.

As Springsteen noted about this synergy, each member of the E Street Band is uniquely qualified to play their instrument, and as such all of them are accomplished musicians in their own right. But together– TOGETHER- as a complete band they are great! The band- the sum of the musicians is greater than its parts. So, employees who are talented and have solid strengths can actually be activated to their fullest potential as part of a team: 1 + 1 = 3.

 How does one achieve greatness while also maintaining employee individuality? There must be individual practice to achieve team progress and consistent success. Individual practice relies on managers tapping into the employees’ strengths and placing them in a position to succeed alongside their coworkers—one team member’s strengths helps to overcome another team member’s weakness. A leader capable of managing the individual towards a common vision sets goals and expectations, outlining everyone’s role within the team and how they contribute to the greater good. There must also be hard work—these same successful managers and leaders push their employees to be their best selves as a team and individually. If all the pieces are in place, let the magic happen.

What are you doing as a leader of your club to create that magical environment? Some managers jump out of airplanes dressed as Santa Claus, others enjoy family meal in the employee cafeteria on a daily basis. Some dress up as the Easter Bunny for the club Easter Brunch. Some make a point to engage with every employee daily. The list is endless. The common theme is leaders work hard at creating an atmosphere and culture where they hire correctly, train sufficiently and allow each person to grow, thrive, and become better every day. They harness that energy and create greatness.

So if The Boss says 1+1=3, who is going to argue?