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Creating Successful Leaders

We’ve constantly been told that to succeed, you must compete early, often and without fail. Good leaders stoke a competitive drive in their employees, the common knowledge says. Competition leads to innovation, innovation leads to breakthroughs and advancements in the industry as a whole, and this leads to a greater flourish in the economy. Or so the thinking goes.

I believe that some competition is good, but is there such a thing as too much competition, or negative competition?

When I was a member of the corporate world, I vividly remember feeling the need to compete with my coworkers–to be the first to get my project done, to be the most consistent, most creative member of the team, always looking up the ladder for opportunities of personal promotion. This was a very real atmosphere in many of the places I worked, and while it did prompt us to work harder and look for ways to innovate, it also created an environment of distrust, bitterness and at times, outright hostility between employees.

This is the downside of competition. I believe that internal competition actually creates stress and robs valuable energy that would otherwise be spent on the creation of remarkable business strategies. Healthy teams, after all, are built on unity and clarity of vision, trust, and mutual respect. They are NOT built on an environment of selfishness and back stabbing.

As a leader, it’s vital that you are aware of the culture of your business and make a point to reward teamwork and support. Address issues of negative competition early on, and be clear that the “make way for number one” attitude doesn’t help the organization as a whole, it hurts it.

When in doubt, use this rubric for determining between good and bad competition: healthy competition motivates and pushes the organization forward, while unhealthy competition poisons the workplace atmosphere, which in turn hinders growth.

In the big picture, unity and trust are your biggest allies for true innovation and success.


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