Sustainable Sacrifice

The highlight of my IW journey so far has been designing and facilitating a recent Strategy Team Away Day for a group of 14 Senior Executives of a global engineering company. Observing how things work at this level gives you some fascinating insights into both leadership and teamwork at the higher levels within a FTSE 100 company. I learnt many things during this workshop, but one of the strongest lessons was a simple one. That sustainable growth sometimes takes a little sacrifice.

During the one-and-a-half-days the group shared conversations about leadership, collaboration, decision making and prioritisation. They were both prodded and poked to really think about whether they were operating as a true team. We pushed them to think about the future they would like to create for the company and their role within that. And we challenged them to share their story about the professional adventure they wish to embark on.

The energy from the group was extraordinary. What I experienced from this session was a real level of commitment and responsibility involved in running a complex, public company where delivering sustainable growth was the group’s primary goal. I also witnessed a real desire to improve creativity and entrepreneurialism in the organisation so to make work even more meaningful and impactful.

So, what has all this got to do with sacrifice? Well, I learnt that true leadership and team work may sometimes need to involve sacrifice. In a resource constrained world, we can’t always reach a consensus or achieve a unanimous decision. A collective win-win for all parties may initially seem as a win-lose because more often than not, we will have to prioritise other team members’ needs before our own. What I learnt is that if we want collective sustainability, some members of the team need to be allowed to fail in order to grow. That failure is only possible if other members make a sacrifice.

Whether it be their time, money or patience, true sustainability sometimes involves some sacrifice from the more established or mature parts of a team or business. Whilst a consensus between every team member might nice, it’s the commitment to the goal of sustainable growth that makes a truly strong team.

It is not always possible to receive a unanimous decision on something, but sometimes, for the greater good of the team, we do need to obtain commitment in order to move ahead. Sometimes, that little bit of individual sacrifice can be the real secret to sustainable success for the team.iw