The Uncommon Unity of U2

The band U2 has had a phenomenal run since they came together in 1976. Critics rave over their music and fans can’t seem to get enough of their songs and concert appearances. All the signs indicate that U2 is at the top of its game and will be going strong for the foreseeable future.

Why has this particular band been together for more than 30 years when most other bands that experience success for a period of time eventually fall apart? One reason bands split is that over time as band members become increasingly wealthy they begin exploring individual opportunities. Band members who were once tight relationally now spend less time with each other. They drift apart. And when the inevitable difficult season arrives, the bonds of relationship are not sufficiently strong to withstand the stormy season.

I’m not an expert on U2 but it seems to me that two factors that we have identified as being part of a Connection Culture are partially responsible for keeping U2 united. Tony Cruz, a friend of mine who plays drums for the hit musical “Hairspray” on Broadway, recently told me that the band’s profits are split equally between the four members of U2 and their manager. That’s not what I would expect. Given Bono’s status as a megastar, it would not be surprising if he claimed more than an equal share of the band’s profits. What better way to show your team members that you value them than to treat them as economic equals? This is one example of the element of “Value” in a Connection Culture.

Many CEOs and stars in organizations could learn from Bono. I’m not arguing for economic equality across the board. I do believe, however, that compensation for senior executives and stars at times goes so far that it makes the remaining members of a group feel like they are on a different team. This is obviously not good for employee engagement.

An additional factor that unites the members of U2 is their shared values, which is the element of “Vision” in a Connection Culture. U2’s lyrics and philanthropic activities make it obvious that they share a commitment to spirituality and social justice. The picture above was taken at U2’s appearance during the halftime show of the Super Bowl. As a tribute to the individuals who died as a result of 9/11, U2 had their names scrolling behind and above the band while it played. You can watch U2’s tribute to the victims of 9/11 by clicking

I’m interested in exploring U2’s unity as material for my next book and would love to hear your thoughts. Are there any U2 fans out there who are aware of other factors that unite the band members? Please post a comment here or email me at

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