I read often about the idea that the aim of groups is to be able to ‘work together’. In the context of the world today, and what we’ve all been through recently (and are still going through), I wonder if ‘working together’ is enough? My experience is that if we are ‘working together’ then we are in a state of getting on with the job; doing what needs to be done to meet an outcome. In the past that may have sufficed, however we find ourselves in a position today where increasingly we are seeing transactional and administrative type tasks going the way of self-service and automation. This process is eliminating an important layer of ‘the work’ that we once got on with, and creates a new definition of what it means to get on with the job.
This new foundation layer is more transformational than it is transactional. It means getting on with the job in an era defined by continually changing technologies that influence rapidly shifting business expectations, and with a generation of younger, more world-aware, and ‘instantaneous’ employees. Underpinning this is a business environment influenced by global uncertainty, a more mature understanding and regard of the impact of culture and an environment that is more disrupted today than in recent decades. This shift brings with it a whole new set of challenges that redefines what it means to work and to lead.
So, coming back to my initial question…is ‘working together’ enough to ensure organisational success today? I think it’s a good start, though the real goal is to progress to the frame of ‘winning together’. The table below summarises some of the key transitions will help an organisation move from Working Together to Winning Together:
Whilst not every team or organisation could attest to being completely in the frame of Winning Together, when I speak and work with those who are fortunate enough to be in organisations who appear to be Winning Together, what I experience in the words they use, and see in the things they do, is a real sense of liberation. They speak of the freedom to experiment and exercise entrepreneurialism within a clearly defined set of boundaries. They speak of leaders who are more interested in feeding and guiding their energy around a task rather than micro-managing the task. Above all, they speak about how they are encouraged to bring their whole self to work…not just the part that completes the job. They fully participate in ‘how’ the job is done, and not just that it is done. They therefore have a vested interest in success, and finding ways to be successful; for themselves and for the business.
In addition, when we consider the literature on how to work with each coming generation, we know that ‘working together’ isn’t going to cut it for much longer. Anyone who is currently leading a team of Millennial’s will most likely already be cutting their teeth on the attributes listed in the Winning Together column above.
All of this is compounded by the impact of the pandemic and the shift to hybrid (and other) ways of working. I’m not sure that merely ‘working together’ will be enough to ensure organisational longevity and success. A ‘Winning Together’ mindset may be the new non-negotiable basis from which we work and lead. Importantly though, if you are to embrace hybrid or fully virtual teams, you will need to be mastering the Winning Together philosophy as a leader to ensure any measure of success…because what Winning Together looks like for a hybrid team will be different to a fully remote team and different again to a co-located team in the office.