Saturday, December 5, 2009

Competition and...or...and/or Teamwork

Clearly our whole economic system is based upon competition. The foundation of a free and open marketplace is based upon the proposition that, subject to appropriate behavior (defined by laws and regulations,) may the best product, company or man win. It's not just the business world that emphasizes competition. Many of our leisure time commitments, whether they be participatory or passive, are based upon our preoccupations with the competitive world of sports, amateur or professional. We are a society that venerates (albeit sometimes are jealous of) winners and, depending upon our upbringing, disdains or commiserates with losers.

I've worked with, and for, extraordinary leaders who pay more than a little attention to how they can best use the inclination of employees to view the business world and their place in it as a giant arena---sometimes a sporting arena and sometimes a more coliseum type (live or die competition); a zero sum game. If he wins, I lose. If he gets a raise or promotion, I don't.

Our firm's leader is a remarkable top executive and I have watched him more that once deliberately set two executives up for each to see their success as dependent upon being "the competitor" that winds up bringing the most to the table. But this chief chef also makes it clear that the entree, if you will, while the cornerstone of the meal, is only a component of all that contributes to the degree of success of the meal. The appetizer, sides, drink, salads, desserts, etc. all contribute to the diner's take-a-way: Hopefully, "Wow, that was great! Let's make sure that we come back here again."

Well now, how does the core value of "teamwork" fit in with all of this?

For this meal to win that accolade, everyone from dishwasher on up will have to perform well and with each other. And the great chief chefs, did much more than get superb educations at culinary institutes. They learned more than to memorize recipes and create new ones. They learned how to get the most out of, by giving the most to, the teams that will have to work together to create a great dining experience.

So, extraordinary executives evaluate individual sales executives based first and foremost upon their individual contributions (is he building my business by bring in new customers who retain us again and again because he effectively partners with them to grow their, and consequently, my business?). And then, in assessing how to maximize the potential contribution from the individual seller, he measures his contribution to the team, his co-workers, employees, and bosses. Does this person work and play well with others so that the sum is truly greater than all the parts because he is one of the parts?

If so, let's keep an eye on him and help get him ready for the next step. If not, let's give him everything he needs to bring the most in himself, and box him in enough so that there's no harm to the team?

Are you fighting side-by-side or to the death with your colleagues?

Great Selling!

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