Skip to main content

People rower working hard while racing.

Is there an “Us” and “Them” in your bid team?

It can be hard to create one winning spirit in a bid team, where everyone visibly lines up with equal enthusiasm against the goal. As a bid team member it can be upsetting and frustrating if others don’t seem to be working as hard as you. As the Bid Director, you know that everyone acting as one team is critically important to success – where you all have a winning spirit, commitment and respect for each other.

When I first worked with bid teams and heard of variations in winning spirit, it was a complete puzzle to me. I couldn’t conceive of anyone who would want to work in a bid team, and not have a winning spirit. Surely it is the goal, to win?

Now I think the challenge is about understanding what we each mean. The thing to do is to open up communication; to be willing to listen first and create agreements second.

Here are some useful questions to ask your bid team which may refresh or add to your thinking. They are a snapshot from workshops I run for Bid Directors to build winning behaviour:

Q1 – What do you mean by winning?

Ask each team member in depth what they mean by winning. From this understand what drives, influences and underpins their motivation. From this discuss and agree with them how to call on their aspirations and energy to win.

Q2 – What is the win, this time?

Find out what they see as the win this time, for this bid, in this context. As you know the win varies; the particular outcome, the level of profitability, the specific measures of success. Without an explicit conversation, last time’s measures will be assumed to be true to this bid too.

Q3 – What will you give to win?

Ask your team members what are they willing to give to win. Time, effort, feedback, honesty, openness, a contribution to team spirit? Tell them how will you let them know when they are doing well, and how you will hold them to account and ask for different behaviour when they are not.

Q4 – What do you need to win?

It’s a two-way street. Find out what your team members need from you, from other members of the team and other parts of the organisation. Find out what they need to offer their best, to contribute to the win, everyday.

I’m fascinated by what we each mean by winning.  The feelings it can evoke, the new territory that it can create and the satisfaction that can result.

One thing I am sure of is that each person will have a slightly different definition of winning in their minds. So get explicit with each other, look for the nuances and find interesting differences and gaps.

The nuances, differences and gaps may be the elixir of your team’s winning spirit!

Your team’s winning spirit can then be developed into winning behaviour – behaviour you can use to trust each other to deliver to the highest possible standard against your shared goal.

Get in touch

If you have a hunch that a small investment to develop winning spirit and behaviour would improve your ability to win, get in touch. Individual coaching, top team facilitation and whole team workshops are on the menu to help.

We could ">work together before you next bid starts, at a crisis point half way through, or near the end when pressure is high.

Here is what one client says:

“Gill has supported individuals and the team in new and improved leadership thinking and team working to deliver our objectives. Understanding and modelling improved behaviours has allowed us as individuals to ‘be at our best’, and also to facilitate others in the team to do likewise. This has improved the team working, and most notably has been a significant contributory factor in winning the Northern Rail franchise bid and the London Overground concession. Thank you Gill for your support.”

Richard Harrison, MD, Franchise Bidding, Arriva UK Trains Ltd

Gill How has over twenty years’ experience of working with bid, sales and other professionals to help them accelerate the capability and leadership of their team as a route to winning results. If you would like to meet for a cup of coffee to explore how she can help, contact her here.


Gill How

Helping leaders grow, step up and deliver outstanding results


  • Allan Robb says:

    Thanks Gill
    This is 100% spot on.

    How often do we assume we are all on the same page – have the same goals – the same values – the same commitment – the same understanding ? Then find we don’t – and things don’t work – or we don’t win

    So to get results, more work, analysis, soul searching and communication is required.
    More please

    • Gill How says:

      Thank you Allan, your point about assumptions is so true. It takes courage and confidence to surface them though, doesn’t it, and it needs to be worth the discomfort to get to the gain.

  • Jo Seth-Smith says:

    Hi Gill,
    Really enjoyed reading this blog post. It reminded me of the coaching session we had when we identified the importance of looking at what success looked like to me across the portfolio of projects I manage; and whether this was the same as what success looked like to the various team members on each project. Considering a few projects have changed course due to funding, a great topic to bring back onto the table! Thank you!

Leave a Reply