THE PARADOX ON THE COMPETITIVE SPIRIT
I have always been concerned – more so lately – about the dog-eat-dog, kill or be killed, Darwinian survival mindset of business leaders today. I don’t mean to imply that I believe all competition is bad. It has its place and, when properly managed, can act as an accelerant to building strong teams.
My concern is that leaders often do not draw a clear distinction between internal and external competition because they subconsciously let their personal competitive mindset color their thinking. When this happens, the fear-based virus of the competitive mindset, like a plague, infects the spirit of teamwork and kills creativity and innovation in all areas of a business. Why? Because when competition is encouraged in the work environment, it is natural to win at the expense of others losing. That is not an effective way to think when the desire is to have strong, committed team. What would happen in every member of a sports time focused on trying to defeat their fellow team member?
Alfie Cohn writes in his insight book No Contest: “Competition is to self-esteem as sugar is to teeth. It is a breeding ground for hostility.” In other words, it creates fear and that fear, as Peter Druker, the world’s foremost management thought leader, argues in his book, Shaping the Management Mind: “fear generates hostility toward innovation, produces resistance to change, and is incompatible with knowledge work.” This includes fear of communicating openly and fear of communicating openly and candidly is the silent killer of organizational performance.
There must be a paradigm shift if American business is going to be successful player in the global economy. If the leader demands and expects cooperation, his people taking responsibility and acting because their empowered, open dialogue, trust, risk taking and personal ownership of an organizational vision, then fear must be eliminated and competition kept focused on competitors by creating the correct reward system..
There must be a paradigm shift if American business is going to be successful player in the global economy. If the leader demands and expects cooperation, open dialogue, risk taking and personal ownership of an organizational vision, then internal fear must be eliminated and competition kept focused on competitors.
This blog was inspired by the open-minded, cutting edge and out of the box thinker – Paul Block of Merisant. I just got home from presenting a keynote and three breakouts for his sales and marketing team. You will be reading more about him in my future articles and blogs.