You Don't Have to Be Competitive to Win In Business

May 21, 2021 2 min read
You Don't Have to Be Competitive to Win In Business

Is your leadership slowing progress? No? Okay, let’s put it to you another way. Do you compete for petty wins? Do you pursue your own goals at all costs?

If you do, it sounds like you’re competitive. If this is you, your leadership may be slowing progress. But not necessarily for reasons you think.

Stick with me and I’ll explain.

Racing In the Streets

I’m a big fan of Formula 1 racing. It’s a great spectacle and a brilliant competition to follow. Tactics and race strategy add to the excitement. Every so often, it isn’t immediately clear who leads the race.

At times, a high-ranked driver may need to regain track position and pass another driver. Experienced drivers know that defending an overtaking move is costly. Lap times suffer, the field closes, which compromises predicted race results.

In some circumstances, the best strategy is to concede a place. Yet, many inexperienced drivers will compete. Inevitably, the lower ranked driver concedes his position, but only after compromising their race and that of their opponent.

Competitive Leadership Slows Progress

Whether it’s ego or inexperience, the outcome is always the same: unnecessary competition comprised both races. In sport and business, you need to know who you’re really competing with.

When we fight the small race, we lose sight of the bigger picture.

We compromise our vision of the future and that of our peers. We hurt our chances of success.

Let me ask again, is your leadership slowing progress?

When I lead a team of solution architects who designed business solutions, I often I find myself in direct conflict with someone because they believed my objective compromises their strategy.

Let me illustrate…

A business has to keep receipts for tax purposes. One solution is to store them in the finance system. Another is to use a Records Management System. Both have their merits … and their drawbacks.

But, the problem is this: receipts must be destroyed after 7 years, but the finance system doesn’t support record retention. It will keep the receipts indefinitely.

So, someone challenges the solution and people decide which side they intend to support in the dispute. Progress is slow because competition leads us astray.

The Greater Goal

We lose sight of what is important. Is using the finance system more important than the other? No. Neither are that important. It is the bigger race… the greater goal… the introduction of employee self-service that matters.

One way or another, we eventually reach a decision. But at what cost? Delay, procrastination, damaged reputation, frustration, lost functionality, and so on.

And here’s the paradox: we compete because we share the same objective. That is, to succeed… to finish the race.

So, next time you dig your heels and doggedly pursue your own goal, ask yourself this question: Is my leadership stance slowing progress?


Is your leadership slowing progress? How do you deal with workplace conflict? You are welcome to tell us about your experiences in the comments.

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