Lessons from 12th Man Mania

This Sunday at 3:30 (PST) legions of football fans (and casual observers) will tune into the big game.

An estimated 70% of Seattle-area residents will be glued to their televisions watching the Hawks (and Broncos) compete in Super Bowl XLVIII. Over the past several weeks, 12th Man signs, flags and banners have been prominently displayed from rooftops, office buildings, homes and vehicles. The Seattle evening skyline is aglow in Seahawk blue and green lights.

It’s intriguing that a professional football team can capture the emotions, attention and support of so many people (an estimated 30,000 fans lined the roads as the team departed for New York last weekend). How did a sports team span across social, economic, cultural and ethnic divides to unite an entire region? In reflecting on the amazing Seahawks’ playoff run, I came up with three concepts which homeowner association managers and board members might take from the 12th Man Mania to utilize in building community within their own neighborhoods:

1. Embrace diversity and identify common goals. Consider some of the personalities that make up the Seahawks. How do Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman, Marshawn Lynch and Pete Carrol work together? They have such divergent personalities and life experiences. The answer: they share common goals and do not let personalities distract from achieving collective goals. What goals are important to your community? Are personality differences standing in the way of success? The key is identifying core values, establishing common goals and putting aside personal differences to achieve collective success.

2. Exhibit strong leadership. The Seahawks are successful in large part due to the organization’s stellar leadership, which includes the owner, coach, quarterback and team captains. Similarly, a successful community association must exhibit strong leadership from its professional manager, board president and officers.

3. Communicate, promote involvement and celebrate successes. The “12th Man” campaign is absolute genius – anyone and everyone who desires can be part of the team. Of course, the Seahawk organization has an entire Public Relations (PR) team with a large budget to help drive that message. Community associations may not have professional PR folks, but that shouldn’t deter promoting the value of your association to community members. Association boards should work to ensure regular and transparent communication with the homeowners. Association websites, newsletters, open board meetings and an occasional “town hall” get-together do wonders in facilitating community involvement and good will throughout a community. Further, an association board should not be bashful in promoting successes, such as completion of construction or renovation projects, particularly effective committee work, or even well attended barbecue or other social events around the community—celebrate together.

Regardless of whether the Seahawks win on Sunday, there is little doubt they’ve had a terrific season and galvanized an entire region. Perhaps community association leaders and managers can take a few pointers from the team to help facilitate and promote community within our neighborhoods.

Go Hawks!!

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