Using friendly competition to boost performance in your business…

Competition is seen as a natural part of life and work. There is always a creation stage when an idea must compete for its place in the world. You have to compete for a new job. The entrepreneurial stage in business is when the start-up must prove it’s worth and activity is primarily about winning customers without which the product or service will not survive.

But not everybody enjoys competition whilst some people thrive on it. Leaders have to be careful that when they frame competition that it doesn’t create anxiety and negative impacts on people’s wellbeing.

Competition increases psychological and physiological activation and exercised correctly leads to creativity and supportive behaviours. Done incorrectly, competition leads to cheating and sabotage as we’ve witnessed by banks leading to long term pain for the organisation, employees and clients.

Competition needs to lead to happiness not humiliation if you want to get positive outcomes.

Here are some key points to consider.

Compete originates from the Latin Competere meaning to strive together to achieve a common purpose. Chances are that competition was a key driver of human progress along with the peak performance flow states that competition can engender. It is important to remember that humans collaborated their way to the top of the evolutionary tree, probably in friendly competition.

Constraints

Introduce constraints and be clear about boundaries and ethical values that you are all agreed to upholding. Research has shown that saying the Lord’s Prayer before a competition decreased the cheating that took place by a group of students in a test when the answers were easily obtainable.

Open to Feedback

As a leader encourage the right behaviours and attitude by modelling them such as being open to feedback. Also, introduce the concept of ‘After Action Reviews’ so that the focus is on improving the behaviours and processes not just achieving the results. Keep it non-threatening and friendly.

Mutual accountability

Measure team results more than individual results so that the team members are mutually accountable to each other not a manager. Peer pressure is more effective than dominant pressure. We feel more compelled to help our own people more than a person who is not ‘one of us’.

Purpose vs Material

Make competition success about improvement and personal growth, don’t design rewards purely based on money or status. If you introduce monetary and status rewards then it can lead to jealousy and resentment. Peer-to-peer recognition is useful as we do enjoy basking in the limelight sometimes, even the quieter team members.

Excellence

Regularly emphasise that the aim of competition is to encourage the pursuit of team excellence. If an individual achieves great results, that process should be modelled and shared with the other team members.

Team Building

Brain storming sessions, quizzes around work, shared social experiences are all excellent ways to bring people together and build esprit de corps.

Egalitarian

In military special forces units, hierarchy is shunned and people are recognised for their indivdual expertise. They’re not encouraged to be clones but have individual skills. If you promote egalitarianism and appreciation of individual strengths in your organisation, then it will encourage creative teamwork but harnessing that creativity is a skill.

Collective intelligence from a diverse group is just as effective as having a lone genius- and there aren’t many lone geniuses around- so work on boosting team engagement.

With everything that has happened this year and how that will impact us all going forward, when would now be a good time to make facilitating effective meetings, decision-making and learning to use collaboration tools for effective communication and coaching, a core competency in your business?

Interested in learning more? Mission Power meeting Facilitation Online Course

Ownership or Leadership?

Why is ownership so important in team and individual engagement?

With ownership one could argue, the owner’s worldview is to extract value from people working on ‘their’ projects where as, a leader is leveraging the potential of a group of people to co-create value for the community.

Ownership is one of the greatest cons of all time which began around 10,000 years ago. Somehow, somebody, (probably a man) got their hands on some agricultural tech and gained an advantage over others, then leveraged that advantage. This has led to hierarchies, the exploitation of people and the destructive extraction of wealth from the planet with disastrous consequences.

Don’t believe me? Just look around you…

Before that period, as evidenced by observing contemporary hunter gatherer cultures that are still around today, we can see that our Palaeolithic ancestors were primarily egalitarian. Moreover, they were egalitarian for 150,000 years and living in balance with nature. They’ve outlasted supposedly more sophisticated, war-like civilisations such as the Roman, Mongolian and several Chinese dynasties.

Anthropologists have studied dozens of hunter-gatherer societies in remote areas around the world such as Africa, Asia and South America. These tribes lived in small bands of about 20 to 50 people and have many common cultural values. They also maintain peaceful relationships with friends and relatives in neighbouring bands. Warfare was relatively unknown and the dominant cultural ethos emphasised autonomy, non-directive childrearing, communal cooperation and decision-making. It appears we collaborated our way to the top of the evolutionary tree.

On the flip-side, modern history has been the ongoing conquest by dominant warring parties of other smaller bands to form more complex political structures. These societies focus on higher levels of power, wealth and control passing to an elite group at the top and like a Ponzi scheme is unsustainable. Every so often they fail and collapse back down to more sustainable levels. Then when the dust has settled and memories faded they begin the same journey again.

We’re heading towards a global economic and cultural community but that’s a work in progress. In the meantime we’re wrecking the planet with our conquering and exploitative mindset and people’s mental health and wellbeing are suffering as a result. Two decades of war in the middle east to protect the American petro-dollar is a classic example. All those humanitarian and ecological costs to protect the oil industry and American’s hegemony, are externalised onto communities and the planet.

So back to teamwork and leadership.

How does behaviour compare with egalitarian communities and modern workgroups?

Just as we have modern archetypes in the workplace, one could argue they match those of ancient egalitarian people. There are hunters, gatherers, shaman (mostly women originally) and scouts.

Hunters periodically acquired meat as a source of protein, Shamans were the keepers of the wisdom e.g. which berries were edible and which would kill you. Gatherers nurtured others in the community and foraged for edible vegetation and the Scouts would look for new hunting grounds and connect with other communities for marriages and trading.

Today we have Founders who are similar to Scouts as in they challenge old ideas, create new products and champion new ideas.

We have Entrepreneurs who tend to be more risk tolerant, focussed and can drive new ideas into existence similar to the hunter personality.

We have the Gathers who are the supporters and coaches within the organisations.

And the Managers, like the Shamans, are generally the keepers of the wisdom and strive for operational excellence and like to organise for certainty.

But what’s different from the workplace is traditional egalitarian communities maintain social norms that prevent any of the personalities from trying to exploit their position. These are called:

S.T.O.P’s – Strategies to Overcome Power

Hunters didn’t bring home meat then boast about their good fortune and hold the rest of the group to ransom. They didn’t promote silly ideas of greed as some ordained right. Material wealth was shared. Egalitarian communities focus on what George Monbiot calls ‘private sufficiency and public luxury’ the total opposite of what neo-liberal capitalists promote today.

In our evolutionary history we began to resist hierarchy, an ancestral primate social modus-operandi, when we developed the ability to speak. This allowed weaker members to collaborate more effectively, band together and throw rocks at any tyrannical member of the group that tried to dominate them. However, all previous evolutionary and developmental versions of us, are encapsulated within us and if the right conditions occur, people will revert back to being monkeys basically.

They will try to dominate others to get a bigger share of the bananas, and once they’ve got their hands on the bananas, they don’t like letting go.

For business owners and managers this means they have to deal with the psychological effects of the dominance and involuntary defeat systems. These are behavioural operating systems which arise as soon as you introduce hierarchy.

Those with authority and status begin to focus on their position and keeping it rather than doing what’s best for the community. It also increases the likelihood of psychopathology such as Machiavellianism and narcissism (a good example is politics).

Being dominated, triggers our involuntary defeat behaviours which leads us to doing as little as possible for our meagre share of the bananas…Well you would wouldn’t you?

As society has become more polarised between the have’s and the have nots, resentment builds. We’ve seen this with the rise of populism as smart people have tapped into the powerlessness felt by those left behind and motivated them to act in ways which actually don’t serve them but serve the elite…yet again.

Archimedes said:

‘Give me a lever long enough and a place to stand and I can lift the world’

Well leadership is the lever and humility is the place to stand. If we strive to see leadership as a lever of potential not a badge of office and promote those leadership behaviours throughout the organisation in self managing teams and communities we would probably see engagement increase tremendously. Of course it is not easy to wrestle back control from the baboons so perhaps it would be better to follow Buckminster Fuller’s idea:

‘Don’t fight the existing reality, create a new one which makes the old one obsolete’

So in summary, if you’re prepared to treat people like wage slaves, then by all means carry on, but don’t be surprised if it feels like you’re dealing with monkeys at times. Also accept that people are fed up of being left behind which is how Trump and Brexit happened. They’re also realising that their is an alternative and it’s on the rise.

Employee ownership is attracting tax incentives as it has been seen as beneficial for business and society for many years. When you have this level of ownership then the teams have skin in the game. It’s a great way for entrepreneurs to have a succession plan, because when things are steady, they like to move onto their next challenge whilst leaving a legacy.

Whenever an organisation needs to adapt quickly to overcome greater challenges, they’ve always diminished the influence of hiearchy and moved power to information. I call this the Elite Team Concept, as used by the military and organisations.

Special project teams have been hiding in plain site and showing the way for centuries. The irony is that they’re not elite, they’re egalitarian in nature and focus on doing the basics well. It’s our evolutionary advantage. Imagine if you empowered your whole orgniasation with the elite team concept?

Want to know more?

Check out: The Elite Team Concept Seminar with Complimentary Digital Book

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-elite-team-concept-seminar-with-complimentary-digital-book-tickets-98264771577?aff=ebdssbeac

The next one is Online on February 4th 2021

The Trouble With Values

Values can be quite confusing, and more to the point they’re pretty useless unless you know how to action them in your decision making process.

Overcoming Zoom Fatigue & Enjoying Effective Online Meetings with Mission Power!

With the desire for remote working from home increasing, then becoming a necessity due to Covid-19,

Richard Elwell and I discuss the complexity which makes online meetings an evolution in some ways but also a well-being challenge because it can be so exhausting.

We discuss the Mission Power Meeting Methodology and how this can be used to optimise the technology whilst also leveraging the potential for people to enjoy effective and rewarding online and face-to-face meetings.

Ten Benefits for Implementing the Elite Team Concept in Your Business

Notes: HERE 

For a complimentary digi-copy of my book, ‘From Mercenaries to Missionaries – Designing, Developing & Leading High Performing teams in Your Growing Business’ send a message using the form below:-

Leading in Challenging Times

In the third in our series of weekly webinars, we spoke to special guest Martin Murphy, ex-special forces soldier and founder of Elite Leadership, on how to lead your team through a crisis.

Some of the top takeaways included:

1. Good leaders look after the people first
2. Don’t stare at the fire, look for opportunities
3. Top behaviours of effective leaders: emotional intelligence; learning agility; humility; courage
4. How they lead: engage with their teams; align them around common objectives and goals; evolve if things change; practice radically open communication
5. Leaders often cannot escape the storm so they must be able to create peace and tranquillity within the storm to allow them to think clearly and make great decisions. The SOAR model is a way to slow down the reactive thinking process and induce a creative interlude in which higher order thinking is possible:
a. Suspend snap decision making
b. Observe the problem
c. Allow wisdom to percolate up
d. then Respond quickly
6. Promote positive behaviours by adopting a HERO mindset. So be: Helpful; Effective; Resilient; and Optimistic.

There were many more top tips he had to share which can can watch in this video.

 

Leading your Team Through a Crisis

Whilst this is not a definitive step by step guide, it will cover some basic principles and points to think about when leading your team through a challenging period.

The first thing to remember is that people are not very good at responding. Sure they’ll react to an immediate danger, but won’t acknowledge a danger that’s approaching slowly.  Read more: here

Leadership Coaching for The Fourth Industrial Revolution

Anticipating and planning for a world which not even the experts know will look like yet, will bring fresh challenges – probably daily – for leaders, teams and the coaches who support them.

Here is a white paper on a new model of coaching suited to Modern Day Leadership Coaching. It’s aimed at leaders and coaches wanting to leverage more potential and unlock the opportunities within the chaos of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Download here.

The DRIVE for Transformation

I’ve just been speaking to some friends who’re doing some changes in the way they operate their business. Well they’re not ‘just’ changes, they’re actually transforming the structure and the way they communicate with each other and their customers.

There are five stages to pass through and seven fears to overcome when making bold moves to make your world and everybody else’s, a better place to live and work. You’d think everybody would be up for the challenge, but that’s not usually the case. That’s why Tom Collins advises leaders in his book; ‘Good to Great’, that before you decide where your business bus is going, you need to:

‘get the right people on the bus, and sat in the right places’

 

Continue Reading  Here:

How to minimise biased thinking when briefing your teams

“Humans never communicate as effectively as they think they do” Christine Comaford

So, I am working with this group of team leaders and I notice that they are greatly biased towards a certain style of behaviour and communication. They’re very collaborative and inclusive when they are briefing their teams for a task to be carried out. The problem is that they continue to collaborate and communicate until they leave themselves little time for achieving their task.
This is because the group of leaders have grown up in a certain type of culture. Their culture drives their way of thinking and behaving. Just as an individual has a personality, an organisation or country can have its own culture. There is much to be said for being aware of such biases and overcoming them because neuroscience is finding that to have a diverse and inclusive culture creates better performance. But it’s one thing to be aware of them, that alone will not stop biased thinking and behaving. What we need is a process to overcome this when briefing teams. READ MORE