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Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast #112: I’m Winning But Not Making Any Progress

November 12, 2020
Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast #112: I’m Winning But Not Making Any Progress

Whether you are a manager or someone without a leadership title, you may feel that you need to compete with your peers for recognition, reward, or promotion. And while competition can be healthy, if not handled properly, it can destroy influence with your peers. Today, Chris and Perry talk about ways you can complete versus compete with your peers to develop positive influence.

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Read the Transcript:

Perry Holley:    Welcome to the John Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast. Where our goal is to help you increase your reputation as a leader, increase your ability to influence others, and increase your ability to fully engage your team to deliver remarkable results. Hi I’m Perry Holley, a John Maxwell facilitator and coach.

Chris Goede:     And I’m Chris Goede, Vice President with the John Maxwell Company. Welcome and thank you for joining. I want to encourage you to visit if you’re interested in learning more about The 5 Levels of Leadership, which is the methodology we use in organizations around the world. Or maybe you want to download the learner guide that Perry has created for this episode, and you can follow along with us by visiting that site.

Well, we’re going to continue our conversation, our discussion around 360° Leadership today. And I’m guessing, Perry, that this title here is aimed at leading across, influencing our peers in the organization. I’ll let you speak to that after I tell our listeners what this title is, but that’s kind of my guess. Today’s topic and the title is, I’m Winning, But I’m Not Making Any Progress. Now it sounds like a little bit of an oxymoron to me, so you got to talk to me about this.

Perry Holley:    Yeah. It’s easy in many environments today to develop competition between peers. You could be a first-line manager and your competition with other first-line managers, or you could be an individual contributor and competition with your peers in the organization. And that you may feel that you need to compete for recognition, rewards, promotion, all those types of things. And you actually may be winning at that, but I’ve found that that’s a short term narrow-minded perspective. And if this kind of competition persists, you’ll see silos or collaboration will cease and teamwork will take a back seat. And I just think that one of the more difficult things to do is to develop influence across with your peers in an organization, but it will add so much value through… Just the mere adding of collaboration and teamwork to what you do makes a difference. So that’s where I really want to go today.

Chris Goede:     Well, and I agree. Not all competition’s bad. Matter of fact, there should be some type of competition. I think it drives people, drives connection, drives results, and there needs to be and can be healthy competition between teams. And what we’re talking about here is unhealthy competition where peers are playing this zero sum game, where if I win or my team wins, your team loses and you lose. And so there are some downsides to competition that I want to kind of throw out there as we get started and maybe give you a thought or two and an example. But competition can become, and for most of the time it is personal. We often say, “We’re just going to have a little friendly competition,” right? But oftentimes, more than not, we let it become personal. Don’t let it become personal between teams, between your peers, it’s not personal. And I know that’s easier said than done. I’ve been there with you.

The other thing is, I don’t want you as a leader in the organization or an individual contributor to measure your self-worth by the outcome of that competition, all right? One team against another team and they’re like, “Well, my team lost, right? I don’t have any worth in this organization.” That’s not what I want you to do. That definitely becomes unhealthy. But I do think competition is positive. And I think one of the things that I’ve seen from an unhealthy side of things in the competition is, it creates silos inside the organizations. We get into this place to where we’re not going to share with what’s going on in the market or with our product or whatever. And it goes back to the fact that, man listen, rising tide raises all boats. And you got to have this mindset as part of an organization, and even if your peers don’t have that, I want to encourage you to go first and begin having that because it’ll be contagious. And then you’ll begin to see that, for the most part, you’ll begin to see that in the other leaders.

Perry Holley:    I love you used the word mindset because it’s natural to want to win. And I hope everybody on your team wants to win, but winning at all costs can hurt you and it can hurt your peers. So one concept we teach and it usually gets a smile on a face, or somebody will reference a Tom cruise movie, but can you move from competing with your peers to completing your peers? And what would that look like? You complete me. That’s usually what I hear when we state that in the crowd. But what would that look like to move from competing to completing on a peer level?

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Chris Goede:     Yeah. I think this is something that is absolutely key. I think it’s a great characteristic of a leader, of someone in the organization, peer-to-peer, doesn’t matter, that if you have this where your goal is to, “Man, I want to complete versus compete,” and go back to this word mindset you just talked about it. I think people who complete have this abundance mindset, and then people that want to just compete against you kind of in that moment, have a scarcity mindset. And so I want you to think about the organization as a whole. And you’re like, “Well, the organization doesn’t care about me.” Okay. Well, that’s another conversation. Let me give you Perry’s cell phone number and you can call him directly and we can help you talk about that.

But the infinite game, the long-term gain of your influence, your team’s ability to influence the organization and the impact the organization can have on whatever you guys do is for you guys to begin making this mindset shift of an abundance inside your four walls, no matter how big those four walls are, to have that abundance mindset, to be able to share information and complete one another.

Perry Holley:    Yeah. Well, it’s reminding me of a team I was on. I worked for IBM for a number of years, and I was on a team and we were four guys. And we were al strong, capable leaders, we’d all had been executives at one point or another, we were on this team together as peers and reported to the same boss. And while there were several roles to be filled on the group, each of us could do each other’s role. We didn’t have the luxury of just being siloed, we had to cross train a little bit. And it would have been easy for us to have that, what you’d call a scarcity mindset and keep information to… There’s only so much information, “I’m going to keep it to me. I’m not going to share that.” And to communicate to the boss directly so that she would see that our contribution, and I was the one making the contribution and I could cut the other guys out if I wanted to. But that’s not what happened.

What I noticed, and as I thinking about this for this lesson was, we took time to really get to know each other and know our individual strengths and weaknesses. Some of us were better at communicating, some of us were better at analytics, some of us were better at teaching, some of us were better at writing, just knowing what the value of the people on the team was. And we included each other in the planning of the work, leveraging those strengths and weaknesses. We didn’t just have one person go and run with it. We let the best idea win. I’ve heard John teach about that, but I thought we really did. If somebody had a better idea, that was at abundance mindset, bring it, bring it. We need a better idea.

We put the organization and the customer ahead of the individual. So we think what’s the bigger picture? What’s the bigger goal that we’re going for? And I think the last thing and probably much more, but we trusted each other that you’re looking out for me, I’m looking out for you, and we are going to have this influence with each other, even though we’re all fully capable of going in on our own. We’re not. We’re going to work together.

Chris Goede:     Yeah. And listening to you just talk about that team that you’re a part of, obviously you guys, and all of that produced, right? And being productive and driving those results, the team wins. And when the team wins, everybody wins. And you got to kind of have that mindset. I heard say, “Working together works,” right? Working together works. That’s both in the positive side of things when things are going well, and you’re going for revenue. That also goes for when things aren’t going well, and you’re trying to solve problems and you’re losing money. And Alan tells a great story about that when he took over Ford. And the more that the team can work together, it’s going to be for the betterment of the organization. Working together works. So okay, back to this example that you just gave. I’m sitting here thinking about, “Man, that’s an incredible team that she has assembled there.” How did you guys get rewarded? You work so well together. Was it on an individual basis the team? How did that recognition come in order to continue to encourage that?

Perry Holley:    Yeah. So it’s kind of a good problem to have, which was the entire team of peers working to complete each other, instead of competing with each other, gave her a special case of, how do you do that? So she really, what she did was she rewarded and recognized us publicly as a team. And then I know that she went behind the scenes and for individual contributions and things to encourage people separately and privately, which another could be a hit to your ego. You say, “No I want to be called out up on the stage. I want you to hand me that check in front of other people,” but no, when you’re having this completing abundant mindset you say, “We want to win. The goal is to win. Not for me to win. And especially if you’re rewarding me behind the scenes anyway,” It’s a mindset, like you said.

Chris Goede:     Yeah. Absolutely. Well, there’s some things that I’ve seen and we’ve made a few notes here that I want to share with you that can really kind of undermine the spirit of completing, and these will ring true to you, we’ve experienced them. And some will resonate with you a little bit more than others. But man, when your team or your people engage in office politics, we talked a little bit earlier about creating silos, that’s going to undermine completing one another. Instead of focusing on how to grow, right? It’s a process, we believe in growing. They want to focus on what they know and then how they want to tell you, right?

Perry Holley:    And who they know.Chris Goede:     And who they know. Yeah. And absolutely who they know. Instead of providing value, they take shortcuts on the team, right? That’s the quickest way to lose trust with some of your team members. Instead of doing what’s necessary, they do just what’s possible. And then instead of decisions on principle, they make decisions on opinion inside the team. And when you see these, right? Then you’re going to see that it’s undermining the spirit of completing each other on the team.

Perry Holley:    Yes. Instead of a desire to help the team perform with excellence, they tend to be driven by desire to get ahead personally. And I just find that that destroys all trust, it kills your influence with anybody, they don’t know if they can trust you. What I found if you want to develop more influence with your peers, and as I was thinking this, it also helps in your marriage. So just take a note of that. Stay away from petty arguments and don’t feel the need to defend your turf. I mean, really, that’s probably marriage first and then you think about that with your team. Your peer group and your spouse knows you want the best for the team, not just for yourself . It’s such a simple thing, but if you do that alone, people will start to buy into who you are.

Chris Goede:     Yeah. Absolutely. Peers that I think about have influenced me over the years. This is big for me. It may be for you as well. Which is, they say what they mean and mean what they say. I don’t have to spend time walking away or driving home being like, “Okay. Now I know Perry, he made this comment right here, but what was it that he was trying to say, right?” None of that takes place when you’re completing one another. And I also then can build trust on my peers, that they’ve taken kind of all sides of the issue into consideration. We talk a lot about perspective and there’s gaps there. I think there’s gaps too, when it comes to teams and to peers. When it becomes perspective of an issue, we want to make sure that our team members and as a team member, we’re open to everybody’s perspective. And when we do that and we’re taking all sides of that, not just their side, it just continues to build that completing thought process and trust inside working together as a team.

Perry Holley:    Totally agree. I think back about the example I shared about the four guys in similar roles, that’s really exactly how we operated it. Each of the four of us, we had strong opinions and we had strong points of view. We were senior guys, we’ve been doing it for a long time, but we had enormous respect for the others on the team. And we were open to what each other thought and that we wouldn’t put ourselves in front of that. No one had a personal agenda, that would have killed any influence that you had and broken trust. It would have trust immediately. If you thought I had a personal agenda, I’m trying to get my way instead of being open to what the others thought. Chris why don’t you to wrap it up for us and take us home.

Chris Goede:     Yeah. Here’s something that I talk to my team about periodically, and it’s what I call individual responsibility collective pride. And I think if you have that mindset with your peers across the organization and you have that collective pride, then I think it’s going to engage your peers, their teams, and increase just the engagement level inside the leadership culture that you have. I’ve heard John say a couple of times, “One is too small a number to achieve anything great.” Man, look around you. The team that you have the privilege of being on, what is it that you guys could accomplish together if you began completing one another?

And then my final thing is, big commitment precedes big accomplishment. It’s a big commitment. John said this at the Live2Lead, He said, “Big accomplishments are great, but the big commitment is, are you guys willing to work together? Are you willing to challenge each other? Are you willing to complete each other in order to achieve some big accomplishments? And I think you got to do that first before that happens. And because one is too small a number.” So just challenge yourself first. Perry and I, during this podcast, this lesson today, we’re not saying, “Hey, you got to go look for peers that have these.” We’re saying, “You start first with those and that’ll become contagious and then your peers will jump along with you.

Perry Holley:    Fantastic. Thank you, Chris. And a reminder, if you’d like to learn more about these 5 Levels of Leadership or the 360° Leader, you can go to We are offering those workshops virtually now, if you’d like to know more about that, leave us a comment there. You can also leave a question, we love hearing from you, and we’re very grateful that you would join us on this podcast. That’s all today from the John Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast.

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