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"Where Everybody Knows Your Name" Leadership Lessons from One of TV’s Most Beloved Shows

 July 19, 2018   By Sean Olson

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"Where Everybody Knows Your Name" Leadership Lessons from One of TV’s Most Beloved Shows

We all owe a debt of gratitude to Gary Portnoy and Judy Hart Angelo for their song “Where Everybody Knows Your Name”.  This song came to fame through the great sitcom Cheers.  From 1982 to 1993 you could tune into your TV and hear that great song.  Remember these lyrics:

Making your way in the world today takes everything you've got.

Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot.

 

Wouldn't you like to get away?

 

Sometimes you want to go

Where everybody knows your name,

and they're always glad you came.

 

You wanna be where you can see,

our troubles are all the same

You wanna be where everybody knows

Your name.

Come on, admit it.  The tune is in your head now.  It will be there for the rest of the day.  You are welcome!

For those of you who watched and remember, every time actor George Wendt entered the bar, there was a resounding “NORM” from the patrons.  What a sound.  The sound of his name.

Did you know that one of sweetest sounds in any language is your name?  You could be in the middle of a crowded and noisy room full of strangers and 20 feet away someone will say your name and you will whip your head around to see who said it.  Your ears are tuned in to hear your name.  Your emotions are transfixed to hear and respond to your name.

Say your name out loud.  Seriously.  Say it out loud right now.  You love the sound of that word.  Your name rings beautifully in your ears.

This reality is crucial for you as a leader.

What is the point?  You need to know the names of your people.  You need to say their names out loud and know their stories.

Let’s break this song down to reveal some leadership principles:

1.  Making your way in the world today takes everything you've got.

Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot.

The simple truth of work today is that it is stressful.  Most people are called on to do more with less.  The pressures of competition, bottom lines, co-workers and life in general have created a situation where we feel helpless.  Making your way in the world today DOES take a lot. And yes, we would all like a break from the worries.

As a leader you cannot take away their worries and give them a break.  What you can do is know and acknowledge that your people (and they each have a name) are feeling these pressures and honor them for working hard every day.  If it has been a stressful week, let them know you are aware of it and tell them:

“Hey Ted, I know this has been a tough week and we are all feeling the pressure.  Thank you for working hard and standing strong with us.  Your contributions are valuable, and they make a difference.  You make a difference here Ted”.

2. Sometimes you want to go

Where everybody knows your name,

and they're always glad you came.

 

You wanna be where you can see,

our troubles are all the same.

You wanna be where everybody knows

Your name.

Do you see what this chorus teaches?:

  • “Your NAME.”  Call them by name.  Let them hear their name.  And not just when something is wrong.  During good times.  Praise them when you use their name.
  • “They’re always glad you came.”  When was the last time you praised your people, by name, for showing up?  If you have not done that in a while, or ever, go do it.  Now.  Literally, go do it.  It will lift their spirits and your spirits.
  • Let them know that you all are working together, you share in the struggle and troubles.  The work is a WE thing, not an us and them thing.

We all wish we had a bar like Cheers where we could walk in and with loud voices hear (insert your name here).  Imagine that place not being a bar, but your place of work.  Imagine the joy it would bring to your workers.  It would be a place where everyone would want to go.

At Living As A Leader, we offer a Leadership Development Series designed to produce leaders that can positively shape the cultural environment, reduce turnover and achieve crucial business initiatives. We do this by providing training, coaching and consulting with a focus on pragmatic communication tools for leaders at all levels of your organization.

For more information, contact Steph Kotlarek at skotlarek@livingasaleader.com

About the Author


Sean Olson

Facilitator and Coach, Living As A Leader®

Sean Olson is an executive coach, facilitator and keynote speaker with over 20 years of experience helping individuals, leaders, teams and companies reach their full potential and effectiveness. He has worked with officers, directors and senior managers in start-ups to Fortune 500 companies.

Email Sean Sean's Bio

 

 

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