Pearl Jam — The perfect role model for creating a great team

Music can teach us some valuable lessons about building great teams. When you are young, the chances that you will adopt a role model from the music industry are really big. You will follow your role model behavior, their understanding on various topics, and try to implement them in your lifestyle. For me, that role model was (and still is) Pearl Jam.

About Pearl Jam

Pearl Jam are one of the pioneers of the famous Seattle grunge scene that was founded in the early 90’s. With the release of their debut album ‘Ten’ in August 1991, they have exploded in the world of music. In the early days, they had some drummer issues but solved it with the coming of Matt Cameron.

Well, 25+ years later, they were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame 2017 in the Performers category. And here is the key moment… They are still the same team after all those years!

The late Chris Cornell described them as the rare band that tours and creates albums constantly for 20+ years.

Don’t know about you, but I find that extremely impressive. I will now share my opinion why I think they have stayed together as a team for that long.

#1 Ego Driven Members

In my experience, the biggest enemy in a team is the ego driven member. This is so dangerous, it can disassemble a team in a short period of time. Some of the characteristics of the ego driven members are:

  • Getting easily offended
  • Behavior towards others is extremely rude
  • Everything relates back to him
  • Self-Centered
  • Taking every opportunity to make a team member look bad in front of the team manager.

The good thing is that they are easy to be recognized on an interview. You can recognize them from the doorstep or the first sentence. You really can’t miss a person like this. If you let this kind of person on your team, then it’s your fault.

Back to Pearl Jam, every member is there for the music, for the instrument he likes the most, and with the help of others to create something great. You can feel that the ego trip doesn’t exist here.

#2 Passion

This is something that even Steve Jobs said it’s important to have. Make sure that everyone in your team shares the same passion and goals as you do in the long term. Also, make sure that they are not on the team just because of the salary. Having 100% proactive members in the team is what you need. Search for dedicated and passionate members over super-talented ones. Medium-talented members who possess passion and dedication can develop their talents through work.

MTV Unplugged. Source:

What I see in Pearl Jam, is that after all these years they are still into doing tours and music with a great passion and dedication. Some of the members had small side projects, but that didn’t affect Pearl Jam at all. They are always passionate at their concerts and in the music they are making.

#3 Family

This is for the team leaders. You should respect your team members as a family. The team members are more important than you think. Establishing an environment where everyone will help each other in the work and out of work activities is what you should seek after. The team leader should be involved in that process as well.

According to the many interviews that I have watched, Pearl Jam members had tough times through their careers or personal life, and the team was always here to help get over those problems. They even mentioned this on the induction night.

#4 Challenge

Members of a team need to be challenged from time to time. Challenging members to do something they haven’t experienced before will keep them “awake”. For example, assigning a team member to a project that contains programming techniques that he never used before, assigning a new role in the team, etc. Usually, members leave teams because of the monotony of the work they are being assigned to.

The Pearl Jam sound was evolving a lot through the time. They have experimented with the genre, with the sound of their instruments, different types of concerts and so on. Some albums led to failure, some to success. But experimenting and challenging themselves to create something that is new for them, made them what they are today.

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Creating a great team requires a lot of hard work. But, there are living proofs like this one that shows us that it is possible by following some simple unwritten rules. I have applied all these rules and I can tell that they are real. If your team acts like one big family who is hungry for new challenges, the success will be right around the corner.

That’s it from this story, I hope you liked the comparison. If you have any great example of a role model that you follow, please don’t hesitate to share with me in the comments section. Cheers! :)

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