What’s Your Spirit Muppet?

How to elevate your personal role on a high performing team

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The Muppets were the most high-performing team in the history of pop-culture. The blend of characters created the kind of team we all dream of being part of. So what made them so magical and enduring? We often presume success is predicated on the leader of a team or the culture of the organization. Those are strong elements. But ultimately, it all comes down to the people on the team.

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It’s been said that each of the Muppets was based on a real person. Perhaps there is a little Muppet in all of us! What’s your Spirit Muppet?

Read on to refresh your memories of these unique characters, identify with their strengths, and consider your role in forming a high-performing team.

Servant Leadership: Kermit the Frog was the charming, unassuming leader who didn’t aspire to be the leader. He is loyal, brave, and kind. We connect to his audacious belief in basic goodness and his belief in his team. He’s the kind of leader that Brene Brown talks about in her book “Dare to Lead;” exhibiting deep empathy, leading with his values, and being vulnerable and courageous. Brown ends her chapter entitled Rumbling with Vulnerability by stating, “Daring leadership is ultimately about serving other people, not ourselves.”

If you are a Kermit, keep doing what you are doing. I’d work for him — would you?

Mastering our craft: Animal is undoubtedly everyone’s favorite. He is the consummate tortured artist and creative spirit. He lifts our spirits with his absurd but engaging outbursts. When we celebrate his bias towards action and free-wheeling discovery we are getting in touch with our inner Animal by activating the right side of our brain. Daniel Pink, in his book “A Whole New Mind,” explores why the right side of the brain will rule the future. Knowledge workers today shape the modern landscape going beyond logic to celebrate aptitude. To paraphrase Pink, he describes how the diminishing importance or left-brain thinking, cause and effect, in knowledge work “corresponds to the increased importance of right-brain thinking.”

If you are an Animal, you help us connect with our internal creativity and flex our innovation muscle.

Creating balance: Miss Piggy is remembered for her over-the-top mega-star personality with a touch of glamour as well as her fighting spirit. Miss Piggy knows what she wants, and she’s not afraid to stand up for herself. She also appears to be committed to balancing relationships and work life. Miss Piggy demonstrates to us how to balance both the feminine and the masculine with her combination of jewels and karate kicks, her determination, and her romanticism. She embodies the gender-busting perceptions detailed in this 1974 ground-breaking study that describes the value of accessing and valuing both feminine and masculine traits. People with the ability to balance both the feminine and masculine “are psychologically healthier and happier .” (Coleman & Ganong, 1985) A person who balances both sides can have a transformative effect on those around them. Are you a Miss Piggy? Does your team celebrate strong personalities and unique eccentricities?

If you are Miss Piggy, you help us integrate our feminine and masculine traits, improving our emotional intelligence and increasing our competitive advantage.

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Having the tough conversations: Statler and Waldorf, those two old guys in the balcony, could always be counted on to throw out a clever barb or a tomato or two. They balance out the adorableness factor, and they provide a much-needed outlet for all the things people are NOT saying.

Standler and Waldor may need to work on their delivery, but they make it okay to speak the truth. And, the team forgives them for their rough delivery.

The ability to have candid conversations is good for your team, and your career. Kim Malone Scott, in “Radical Candor,” describes how critical it is to deliver candid feedback, and how important it is to be able to receive it. “…it’s crucial to remind people that an important part of Radically Candid relationships is opening yourself to the possibility of connecting with people who have different worldviews or whose lives involve behavior that you don’t understand or that may even conflict with a core belief of yours. It’s possible to care personally about a person who disagrees with your views.”

Considering your team and your place in it —how do you and your team perceive, and address opposing opinions?

If you are Statler or Waldorf, celebrate how you help your team improve their communication by opening up the difficult conversations.

For the Win! Characters like Gonzo and Fozzie can be counted on to entertain others, and they are not acting. You might recall Gonzo’s wild antics of shooting out of a cannon or diving over a cliff to get the laugh. He is driven to entertain, and it seems to us that he will always be willing to take one for the team. Gonzo has that magical ‘Woo!’ factor that helps him Win Others Over and keeps us from taking things too seriously. Like Gonzo, Fozzie puts his whole self into the game for the love of the game. They are authentic in their passion, and it connects with our inner child. Pulling again from Brene Brown’s work, in her book “The Gifts of Imperfection,” she emphasizes the relationship of cultivating joy to human resilience. Deliberately find the things that create joy for you, and linger there.

If you are a Gonzo or a Fozzie, recognize the power of your presence and how you open doors for an exchange of ideas, and a reminder to not take ourselves too seriously.

Celebrate Diversity: It’s surprising how many Muppets don’t speak — at least in a language that we can understand. Recall the characters of the Swedish Chef and Mahna Mahna. We don’t know what they are saying, yet, they are endearing characters that make us smile whenever we think of them. Perhaps it is because we see them living their passions, and they don’t care what others think. We don’t need words to connect with them, their ability to march to the beat of their own drums speak louder than any script. In “The Gifts of Imperfection,” Brene Brown summarizes this in her eloquent preface title, “Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.”

If you are Hergy-bergy-flocken-durk or Mahna Mahna, you energize us and help us celebrate the power of diversity. Rock on!

I hope this helps you find your own inner-Muppet, celebrate your unique gifts and passions, and be kinder and more accepting of others. Here’s to looking beyond our differences in a united celebration of life, inclusion, and diversity.

~ Julee Everett

Hone your craft; speak your truth; show your thanks

Interested in evolving your management style into servant leadership? Contact us at https://clearlyagile.com/workshops to learn more about our Power-Up Your Agile Management series. Or consider a custom boot camp designed specifically for your domain and your big, wicked problems.

Writer, reader, observer. People enthusiast. Overdoes sunrises, never makes it to sunset, can’t pass up a good cup of coffee. Hails from the Gulf Coast, FL.

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