Teamwork in Competition

I’ve never been a fan of competitions, I don’t like when there are losers.  It’s funny that I’m OK in many ways with failure, but not with losing.  I know it’s not realistic to think that it’s possible for everyone to win all the time, but I think more victories are possible for everyone than we’re currently having.  One of the things that needs to change is how things are approached.  Today we’re going to talk about the transformation that choosing the teamwork approach can make for businesses today.

It’s not easy being a Mets fan, but for some reason I stick around season after season.  This week I heard a statement about their approach to the game that explained one of the reasons why they were not winning: it’s because they’re playing not to lose.  You may think that’s a good thing, but it’s not the right attitude or approach to the game.  The focus should be on playing to win, not playing not to lose. It sounds like such a stupid difference but it’s an important one.  If your focus day in and day out in your business not losing more customers or not going into bankruptcy or not wasting money you won’t be successful.  Instead you should be focusing on how you can help more customers.

I understand that one business cannot run an entire niche and do it really well, there’s a reason that there’s more than one business in each niche, take the airlines for example.  Not only is it a question of location, but also the sheer manpower that would be necessary to try to run all of the world’s airplanes successfully by yourself and it’s good for people to have options and choose what works for them.

What I don’t understand are those who feel they have to be everything for everyone.  It’s when we try to be perfect that things often fall apart.  Instead of being perfect if we chose to work as a team there would be fewer errors, more happy customers, better opportunities for all of us, and better potential for the future because instead of having to do things that aren’t in our best interest or that we’re totally comfortable with we’d know that others were there to pick up the slack.

“Creating a better world requires teamwork, partnerships, and collaboration, as we need an entire army of companies to work together to build a better world within the next few decades. This means corporations must embrace the benefits of cooperating with one another.” Simon Mainwaring

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Changing the World: Politics and Beyond

I’m not a big political person.  I don’t really care for all the speeches and maybe-promises and bashing of other candidates.  I do vote and I do appreciate the democratic nation we live in that allows us to vote for the person we think is best for the job.  It would be my preference if we’d all be able to go to one website and see the list of all available candidates and what they stand for and skip the baby-kissing, stage fighting and nasty ads, and then go and vote when the time came.  Simple, straightforward and stress free.

That I can even consider something like that is really amazing: before the internet came to be something that’s accessible by most people either through a phone or their local library it wasn’t possible and the speeches, ads and traveling were necessary to get the word to everyone whereas now anything’s possible practically.  But the blessing extends far beyond the political realm, it affects everyone and everything from school to health to work.  It means we can now learn from people in Australia here in the USA at any point in time and in a timely manner.  It means that we can be updated about the lives of our troops wherever they are around the world and they can stay involved in the lives of their families.  It means that we can easily connect with people of like-minds and not have to be alone to deal with our fears and issues.  It means that now more than ever we’ve got the power to change the world.

People will lie, they’ll tell you what they think you want to hear and they’ll tell you what makes them look the best. But what I’ve found is that there are more people who want the very best for you than those who lie, that more people than ever want the world to be a better place for the next generation, and more people than ever are willing and able to speak up and support that transformation.

It won’t happen today or tomorrow, but I have faith that with each loving and supportive social media post, with every gathering of friends and family, with every virtual joining, with each business invested in the community and not just the bottom line, with each environmentally friendly decision we will begin to change the world.

“No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.” Robin Williams

Celebrating Your Country

It’s another patriotic American holiday this weekend, another chance to remember where we started as a nation and where we still have work to do.  We’re far from a perfect nation, but I believe that we have not only a great foundation to work with, but great potential within our people; people with the ability to make the nation better and stronger than ever.  A nation that encourages freedoms that make the world a better place for more people.  I heard a comment in response to some of last weeks’ events that if we’re really a democracy people should have voted on the topic of same-sex marriage, and I do see their point.   But what their comment really reminded me was that a democracy only works when people get involved.  For too long people have sat on fences and not said anything either way, about many topics, not just same-sex marriage.  It’s once decisions are made that people get mad and say they didn’t have a voice.  But the time to have a voice isn’t when a decision is made, it’s before the decision is made, while facts are still being gathered and options considered.

We’re really busy demanding the nation do things for us, make changes we think are best and do all these things we want them to do without any support or money, and they won’t hear from us unless they screw up, so essentially we expect them to just “know” what we want them to do and do it as if they were infinitely and independently wealthy and psychic besides.  Don’t get me wrong, it is important to speak up for what you think is wrong and get involved in politics and the leadership of the country, they need to hear from us, but it shouldn’t just be what they can do for us.  We have to be willing to put in the effort like the first settlers did when they established our fine nation.

So this 4th of July my encouragement to you, after you’ve seen the fireworks and had the family and friends picnic is to live democracy.  Get out there and make a difference.  Support the Wounded Warriors, spend time in the National Parks that your taxes go to support, embrace democracy and sign up to be a voter, let your political candidate of choice know you support them, the list of things you can do is endless but the concept is simple: get involved.

“My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” John F. Kennedy

The Leader of the Team

This month we’ll be talking about teamwork, and as a result we’ll be talking quite a bit about leadership. Why? Because a team is only as strong as the individual parts, and a key part is the leader of the team, whether it’s the leader of the team or the leader of the organization that the team works for or with. Leaders are and do many things. They’re the person people blame when things go wrong or don’t happen quick enough. They’re the people seen as the head of the organization, and often seen as the organization, much like Steve Jobs was for Apple. They’re required to create a vision for the organization and take action to get their followers there. Leaders have to have followers, otherwise they’re not leading anything or anyone. But most of all a leader’s biggest and most important job is to bring people together.

A leader has the huge responsibility of seeing the best in people, knowing how to bring it out, being able to bring it out and then harness it for the success of their vision. I believe there is incredible potential in everyone. I don’t believe there are any duds out there, everyone has something incredible they can contribute to the world. Part of that is being willing to make the contribution. You know what I’ve discovered? Being willing to make a contribution depends in large part on the leadership. If the leader is nasty and self-centered, it is much harder to get the kinds of people to be part of their organization that are necessary to make their vision as successful as quickly as it could be. Bad leaders tend to “lead” with harsh intimidation tactics, things that make you fear for your first-born or your own life. They’re not concerned about bringing out the best in you, and certainly don’t reward you emotionally or literally for your contributions in the way that a leader that truly cares about their people would.

So what kind of leader are you? Is it your goal to bring people together to solve the problems of the world? Or are you in it only to achieve your success and your vision? Are you the leader that will be remembered for years to come because of how you cared for your people and the difference you made? Or are you one for the history books that everyone warns not to follow their example? Are your people happy to come to work with you each day or do they drag their feet and protest? Your leadership determines how successful your business will be, and that success has a lot more to do with people than your ability to come up with a great product or be the cheapest in the industry.

I have a different vision of leadership. A leader… is someone who brings people together. George W. Bush