A Very Brady Leadership Lesson - by Patrick Leddin

Recently, HGTV premiered A Very Brady Renovation. The show is built around the home that served as the facade for the Brady Bunch television series. Producers bought the home and are now working with the 6 Brady kids (50 years later) to renovate the home to reflect on the inside the set that was used on a backlot sound stage.

Show creators are leaving nothing to chance. "Accuracy and authenticity are the aim as HGTV restores the famous house to its full '70s splendor. We want every detail, every bit of shag carpet and macrame, to be just the way you remember it."

I believe we can learn things from a variety of sources. To prove my point, I thought we could use the Brady Bunch as a source of inspiration. In particular, I offer the Brady's housekeeper, Alice Nelson. A pseudo family member, she appeared in every episode.

A Bit about the Brady Bunch

Here's the story...a sitcom about the marriage of a man with three daughters and a lady with three sons aired from 1969-1974. During its run, the show never broke the top 30.

Every episode was campy. The storylines were shallow. The outfits were over-the-top 1970s - atrocious. Yet, somehow the Brady Bunch has a huge cult following.

Since entering syndication, it has continuously aired in the United States alone for 30+ years. Today there are websites and conventions dedicated to the show. In 1995, a movie lampooning the sitcom earned $54 million worldwide.

If you've ever watched the original show, you have to be thinking - What leadership lessons can you possibly draw from the Brady Bunch?

Here are 5 things you can learn from the Brady's housekeeper, Alice, and questions for you to consider about your team and organization.

1. Know Your Stuff and Deliver Results That Matter

If Alice didn’t know how to keep a home clean, pack lunches, and help guide the family through their crazy antics, the Brady’s would have sent her packing. Don’t get me wrong, she was a nice lady, but they needed a competent housekeeper more than just another person living under the roof. Whether cleaning out the attic (Jan’s Aunt Jenny episode) or removing itching powder from a group of girls (The Slumber Caper) Alice delivered the goods.

• Is your reputation one as a person who delivers the goods?

• When was the last time that you and your team failed to deliver as expected?

• What did you and your team learn from the situation?

2. Be a Part of The Solution

Alice was never afraid to jump in with both feet to help fix a problem. She didn’t merely stand on the sidelines or complain about the complexities of Brady life, she was a proactive problem solver. Seriously, think about how she personally got involved. In one episode, she quietly washed the family dog Tiger when she was convinced that he was the source of Jan’s allergic reaction (Katchoo). She didn’t seek glory; she sought to solve the problem. Who doesn’t need more proactive folks like this around the workplace?

• What problems exist within your team or organization that are going unaddressed? Odds are you aren't the only one who sees this.

• What might you do today to begin to proactively address the issue?

3. Learn New Stuff

Alice was always open to picking up new skills. For example, she donned a grass skirt to learn the hula dance (Pass the Tabu) and practiced skiing on a makeshift slope in the family’s backyard (Father of the Year). Sure, it was funny to watch her climb the three-foot wooden mountain covered in straw that sat so ‘naturally’ on their perfectly manicured fake yard, but it was more than humorous - it was a demonstration of continually learning.

• Would people consider you an active learner?

• What book are you currently reading? What skills are you honing?

• When's the last time you taught someone something?

4. Be in Your Customer's World

Alice understood and practiced the concept of being part of the customer's team and caring about the customer winning as much as the customer cares. Think about the level of customer service involved in riding a mule to the bottom of the Grand Canyon with your client (Grand Canyon or Bust) or setting aside your ego and jumping into a dunk tank to support the collective efforts (My Sister, Benedict Arnold).

• Who are your most important customers?

• What matters most to them?

• What can you and your team do today to better help your customers win?

5. Provide Value That Is Not Easily Replaced

I have two words for you - Cousin Emma (Sergeant Emma). This is the episode where Alice leaves and her drill sergeant cousin replaces her. Not to blow it for you, but if you look close enough, you will notice that Ann B. Davis is playing both characters in this episode. This means that Alice was so good, even the same actor playing another character couldn’t replace her. That’s just crazy!

• How easy would it be to replace you and your team?

• What can your team do to be more valuable to the organization?

True, this post was intended to be lighthearted, but hopefully you were able to get something from it!

Bring the ideas to work in your organization using this '70s inspired graphic that highlights the 5 key leadership lessons in this article.

Patrick Leddin is Associate Director of the Practice of Managerial Studies at Vanderbilt University and Managing Director of Leddin Group, which provides leaders and teams with a proven process to build great culture and deliver results. He is passionate about helping leaders and team to win on their goals. Check his LinkedIn page here.