We work really hard sometimes to show people how hard we are working. For some people, there is nobility in misery. You see this in individuals, teams, and organizations that look with disdain on companies that have bean bag chairs, bowling nights, and seemingly silly rituals that bring smiles to people’s faces. They grumble about it and proclaim, “Must be nice to be having all that fun! We have work to do around my place!” They think trust is built with mutual boredom.

Smart leaders, like England’s national head coach for football (soccer in the U.S) Gareth Southgate, realize that teams under pressure need to be able to maintain a level of intensity that doesn’t burn them out in the process. As they prepare for the semi-finals in the 2018 World Cup, they could have gone with the same old drills the players have been using since elementary school to warm up. Instead, they are throwing around a rubber chicken. Same results, better process.

Trust is a key element in building a team. Participating in silly rituals together is one way to do it. There are many other ways to do so, but this one has immediate impact and is easy to do. Using play and creativity in warm-up activities also prepares the mind for cognitive challenges related to the task at hand.

In this case, it is winning the World Cup while over a billion people watch. Sorry, but I doubt your business has a performance with higher stakes. Stop being a curmudgeon and have some fun with getting your team ready for their “big game”. Build towers with toys, have silly competitions, get people moving around. What the hell, buy a rubber chicken, throw it around the room and ask people to blurt out a new idea for your business with every catch.

Have some fun.



Ahead of Tuesday’s semi-final match between France and Belgium, the English squad—including Golden boot frontrunner Harry Kane—was spotted tossing around a rubber chicken in preparation for their big Wednesday game. Fans, of course, were delighted to see the players getting along so well.