On a scale of 1-10, how competitive are you?
I frequently pose this question to leaders and teams. People will respond with a chuckle as they rate themselves off the scale! Their responses are not surprising. To have reached the rank of leader in most organizations, you must be a better-than-average individual achiever. I tell my clients it is called the human race, after all, so competing is only natural!
However, there needs to be a mindset shift for leaders to be ready for increased responsibility and accountability. There is an important tipping point that occurs when a leader realizes that it is no longer just about them and their contributions. They truly internalize that their success is only a reflection of their team’s efforts and accomplishments and the individual successes of their people. Leaders who struggle to make this shift will most likely find themselves questioning why they aren’t being tapped for more senior and executive roles.
These behaviors are symptoms or warning signs that the leader hasn’t yet made this important transition:
- Having to be the smartest person in the room (by the way, no one likes that person!).
- Having to “be right” instead of “getting it right.”
- Always focusing on self before others.
- Having to top every story, win every argument, and have the last word.
- Failing to give credit where credit is due.
- Failing to develop others and help them rise.
- Failing to move from doing to being a thinker, strategist, and person removing obstacles for others.
Leaders need to check themselves on their need to compete and achieve. Is success about them, or is it about stepping back and allowing the success of their teams to be what’s most important? When they shed their need to compete and win individually and instead focus on stepping back to allow others to rise and shine, then and only then are they able to achieve great things. Their mindset shifts from being an off-the-scale competitive contributor to being a supportive teacher and coach and a highly valued visionary.