If you believe someone else needs to lose in order for you to win, you’ve missed the whole point of leadership.
Leaders are driven to compete. But for many leaders, that drive to compete is squandered by applying that competitive energy in the wrong direction.
In my days as a marketing consultant, I worked with a chain of small sporting goods stores who were being squashed by the arrival of “big box” retailers. The president of the small stores asked me, “How do we beat these big stores? We just can’t match their prices.”
I answered, “You don’t try to beat them. You find a way to dominate a market that they can’t, or won’t go after.”
We developed a strategy that saw these small stores provide a level of service that the big stores couldn’t match. In the end, the big stores did brisk business in the lower-end price market, while my client owned the higher-end market for whom personal service mattered more.
Effective leadership requires a similar approach. It requires redefining how and where to channel your leadership’s competitive drive.
Specifically, effective leaders must channel their drive to win into three competitive arenas:
1. The drive for self-improvement
Effective leaders are primarily driven to compete against themselves. It’s what compels them to learn, to grow and to develop. In effect, it’s about looking at your present level of effectiveness and saying, “I refuse to stand pat.”
Effective leaders compete against themselves.
2. The drive to battle complacency
The natural direction for any team or organization is towards self-preservation and ultimately to complacency. Whenever you see a team striving for more and stretching to achieve greater accomplishments, you can be sure there is a leader battling against the forces of lethargy.
3. The drive to overcome obstacles
The conditions in which your team or organization exists are ever-shifting. And with each of these changes a new obstacle is presented to be overcome. From shifting market conditions to ever-changing trends and rapidly evolving technology, effective leaders channel their competitive nature to battling these changing elements.
Your challenge is to embrace your competitive spirit. But learn to channel that competitiveness into arenas where the “wins” can be much greater.
Because no one else needs to lose in order for you to win.