3 Essentials for Building a Dynamic Culture I Learned from Welcome to Wrexham
I’m a big fan of “Welcome to Wrexham” a phenomenally popular show about a football team (soccer for you Americans) located in Wales. Recently it struck me how this club has the three essential elements for a dynamic, healthy culture and in huge proportions.
(Bonus piece at the end – it’s worth it!)
Ryan Reynolds (of Deadpool and many of other great movies) and Rob McElhenney (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) bought the Wrexham club during COVID. The show chronicles the clubs unbelievable love affair with football, and how after decades of mediocre performance the town still demonstrates amazing pride, love and dedication to the club.
The show demonstrates how these three elements are “at play” in Wrexham, and how these elements are just waiting to be leveraged in any organization, which guarantees to yield amazing results.
- Alignment – In Wrexham, their team mission, and their beliefs and values about this are crystal clear. And that is that they want “promotion” for the team (You have to watch the show). Almost every person in the town is a super-fan of the club. They “bleed” their team colors. They attend the games. They know all of the fight songs and sing them full-volume at every game, and in every pub on game days. And it’s not just pride in the club. It’s a love and respect for who they are as a small struggling mining town that will never give up!
- Cohesion – They are together. They trust each other. They speak the truth to each other about their team…good and bad. They all feel a part (belonging, identity) with the team. Even though the team is officially the “Red Dragons” everyone just calls the team “Wrexham.” Their level of truth-telling, even when they sorely disagree. does not cause them to lack cohesion. It actually brings them closer together…to have disagreements without any thought of not still being dedicated fans. This is an element that is almost completely lost in American culture and particularly in the political arena.
- Separation – Separation is not the opposite of cohesion. It’s actually a vital element of healthy culture. It’s when you’re not in your hometown, or not with your teammates…when you’re physically separated from your “tribe.” But you’re still 100% a committed member of the tribe. Your alignment with their values, your pride and love for the team, your commitment to success is such that you wouldn’t dream of being disloyal to “your” team. Your cohesion with all the others who feel just as you do creates a strong “self-differentiated” (Failure of Never by Friedman) personality. So when you’re on your own, you wouldn’t dream of being disloyal.
Welcome to Wrexham is the story of football, yes, but more importantly it’s a story of a town where beliefs, values, thoughts and actions tied together. Wrexham tells a compelling and emotional story of what all organizations should be clambering to be like. Their “being, knowing and doing” are all tightly held together producing an aligned and healthy culture. (More about being, knowing and doing in the next blog.)
Every dynamic and healthy culture I’m aware of has a leadership group that somehow has developed high levels of these three: alignment, cohesion and separation.
Remember that culture is created by what the leadership expects, does and allows. Culture never occurs by accident. You will either have one based on intentionality or neglect. Culture-building work needs to be approached as if the very life of your organization depends upon it…because it does!
Before each game the Wrexham crowd sings a Welsh tune that translates roughly to, “We Are Still Here!” …and the tune isn’t even about football. It’s about something much more important, their culture.
To view their solidarity about Wrexham watch a few minutes of this video.
“We are still here, in spite of everyone and everything.
Let the wind blow from the East, let the storm roar from the sea,
let the lightning split the heavens, and the thunder shout "encore!"
Let the tears of the faint-hearted flow, and the servile lick the floor.
Despite the blackness around us, we are ready for the breaking of the dawn!”
Please share this with your friends who are organizational leaders.
This blog shares perspectives on how you have the ability to create new story endings that are meaningful, powerful and filled with hope. I facilitate culture changing processes that help organizations achieve greater impact. Also, I provide leadership coaching to help executives and aspiring leaders become the fullest expression of who they’re intended to be.
If you're looking for coaching or consulting services, contact me - email@example.com
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