Be Thankful for your Competition!

I’m a huge fan of the book Tribal Leadership, by David Logan, John King and Halee Fischer-Wright. The book walks readers through five stages of leadership that reflect different mindsets about work, life, and leadership. At a stage five level of leadership and workplace culture the language in an organization is dominated by a “life is great” perspective, the entire organization views itself as a single tribe, and most importantly, they don’t worry about their competition. Leaders believe that the world would be a better place if everyone was successful, so rather than approaching business with a dog-eat-dingo mentality and through a lens of “winners and losers,” they strive for an approach that would make everyone winners. Stage five leadership accounts for less than 2% of all workplace cultures.

zappos-teamOne of those “2% organizations” that models a stage five leadership approach is the on-line shoe business Zappos. I witnessed this first hand on one of my tours at Zappos when I realized some of the tour participants were direct competitors and yet Zappos’ leaders held nothing back when sharing the secrets of their phenomenal business growth and success with these competitors.

If you visit Cam’s Pizzeria in upstate New York, you’ll be greeted with the sign, “Welcome pizza fanatics.” They also demonstrate a stage five leadership approach through a poster that pays tribute to their competition, expressing sentiments such as:

– “My competitors are the spice of life because without them life would be a bore. If I had no competitors, I would be complacent, inattentive, incompetent and my growth would be stunted.”

– “My friends are too polite to point out my weaknesses and faults, but my competitors go to great expense to advertise them!”

– “I salute my competitors, they’ve been good for me, and they bring out the best in me.”

– “I love my competitors, and wish them all well in their endeavors.”

What do you think? Is this a healthier outlook to work and life? Would this approach lower stress in your workplace and build a stronger, more innovative culture where you work?

Michael Kerr is a Hall of Fame international business speaker who helps organizations create truly inspiring, innovation and fun workplace cultures. His latest book is called, The Humor Advantage: Why Some Businesses Are Laughing All the Way to the Bank.”

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