Business Matters :: Why Competition Isn't Everything | Margaret Heffernan

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Competition is a natural part of life and business, and it can have positive or negative outcomes depending on the situation and the actions we take as it occurs. Younger generations, especially, enter the workforce with a fiercely competitive attitude that stems from the guidance of parents who encourage them to be the very best at what they do. A rugged, individualistic spirit can certainly drive employees to get ahead and soar up the ladder of success, but there is an essential component missing. As leaders, we must establish a culture of collaboration and teach our teams the lessons of teamwork. This week’s guest is Margaret Heffernan, entrepreneur, five-time CEO, keynote speaker and author of noted works such as “Willful Blindness” and “Women On Top.” Her most recent book, “A Bigger Prize Why Competition Isn’t Everything and How We Do Better,” explores the all-consuming desire to win and why competition so often breeds corruption, lies and cheating. Margaret explains the alternatives to competition in business – the most prominent being collaboration and helpfulness. As the days of the heroic soloist slip further into the past, the C-Suite must embrace a new model of leadership — one that nurtures and guides a team of shining stars. She advises leaders to practice silence and sharpen their listening skills to allow their team’s creative and innovative ideas to surface. The best leaders surround themselves with talent and creativity. Successful executives are willing to hire those who will be unabashedly honest about what they could do better. When we allow ourselves to absorb feedback from a team of vigorous collaborators, we take the first steps to redefining success. It is our job to create a system where each leader and employee is encouraged to help each other, and we must reward helpfulness instead of competitiveness.

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