In 2012, the Boston Red Sox experienced their first losing season since 1997, finishing the year with an abysmal 69-93 record, 26 games back of their long-time rival, the New York Yankees. But bad play and injuries weren’t the only things plaguing this team. Many were blaming the atrocious season on poor management, absent leadership, and lack of team chemistry. The clubhouse was being described as toxic and dysfunctional in the media and fans began sporting paper bags over their heads at games.
Fast forward a year to the 2013 season. The Red Sox share the best regular season record in baseball with the St. Louis Cardinals and are only 2 games away from winning The World Series. So how did the Bo Sox go from zero to hero in less than a year? Answer: They grew beards.
Okay, so maybe you shouldn’t throw away that razor just yet, but there is a valuable lesson to be learned from the band of bearded brothers. The scruff created a sense of pride and unity for both players and fans. Homeruns and great plays are now awarded with a tug of the beard. Fans who once showed up with bags over their heads, now sport beards of their own. Even women have joined in on the #GotBeard Movement by donning fake foam beards and t-shirts that read “Peace Love Beards.” The organization now feels united as one, a missing piece in 2012, and the hopes of another World Series Title seem more and more possible.
If your organization is experiencing low morale and poor collaboration, grow a beard. Well, maybe not literally, but identify a cultural symbol that unifies the team and will propel the organization forward under one common mission.