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Jan’s Corner: Winning the collective game

There is a lot talk about personal responsibility in the workplace these days. And rightly so. Without personal responsibility nothing really works and it is hard to make the best out of both people and opportunities.

But is personal responsibility enough to win in the collective game of business?

In professional team sports, like football or ice hockey, each player takes personal responsibility to bring their best performance to the game. They prepare, spend time in the gym and in the practice, they condition their bodies and their minds to peak performance. They show up on the pitch or ice rink with the resolve and determination to win and yet they often fail short of their collective potential. As every English football fan knows, there are numerous instances of Star-filled teams expected to bring home championship trophies but failing miserably in a critical moment, to a team with much lesser regarded individuals.

Under pressure when the stakes are high, teams that succeed rely on the trust and flow – this fluid natural collaboration – they built together over time and for a common purpose. They don’t just pull on the same rope in the same direction but also basically show up not to just be their best but to be their best so that the others can be their best. This is a slight shift of context which makes a big difference not just in sports but naturally also in business. It shift everyone’s orientation on not his or her own success but on the success of all others.

What do you think would change if you showed up at work not just by taking personal responsibility for your performance but also with the orientation and commitment to make the others more successful? If your sole responsibility in the team was to make sure that the others are performing – nothing else but – at their best? That they have the environment, conditions and inputs in the fashion, quality and time when they can and will inevitably succeed?

The beauty in this is that the business has a much greater chance to win when challenged, everyone has a great experience performing and learning in the process regardless of the results… plus everyday you wake up everyone else wakes up to make your success inevitable.

I’d say a bold idea worth applying.

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