A while back, I wrote a blog about how to suck at leadership. A tongue-in-cheek look at how not to be an effective leader, it turned out to be one of my more popular blogs. In the spirit of those rare Hollywood sequels that don’t suck, here’s one on how to suck at winning.
Apparently, playing to win in the business world isn’t for everyone. In fact, in most organizations the attitude is one of playing not to lose rather than playing to win. Of course, leadership never overtly says, “We’re playing not to lose.” But it very clearly sends that message in the types of decision that get made, how they are made, and by focusing on past successes rather than building on those AND looking to the future.
If playing not to lose represents your preferred strategy, here’s how to ensure you don’t end up on the podium with the gold medal around your neck.
Winning habit: Focus on winning every day.
Suck: Don’t take 10 – 15 minutes each morning to review your agenda and focus on those activities that most support your vision of winning.
Really suck: Don’t even have a vision of winning. Just show up every day and hope not to lose. More than anything, the lack of a clear vision regarding where you want to go will ensure that you don’t get there.
Winning habit: Focus others on winning.
Suck: Don’t communicate your vision to everyone in the organization on a consistent basis. Introduce your plan at the beginning of the year, then put it on the shelf and never refer to it again.
Really suck: Again, don’t even have a vision. Just show up every day and see what happens.
Winning habit: Expose your thinking.
Suck: When presenting new ideas or initiatives, don’t explain your assumptions, the data you have that supports them, and the conclusions you drew as a result of the data.
Really suck: Don’t allow questions or feedback at the end of your presentation or in meetings. Then expect everyone to think the same way you do.
Winning habit: Prove yourself wrong.
Suck: Don’t take the time to seek out new sources of data that might challenge your point of view or encourage employees to express different ideas, opinions and perspectives.
Really suck: Actively suppress different perspectives and any hard data that contradicts your point of view.
Winning habit: Develop intellectual curiosity.
Suck: Don’t look outside your business or industry for new ideas, emerging trends, or threats to your business that might come out of left field.
Really suck: Assume that you know all there is to know about your customers and your industry. Don’t be curious, open or interested in exploring the new and the different, especially when it challenges the prevailing wisdom.
Winning habit: Lead effective meetings.
Suck: Don’t pause at the start of important meetings to set an agenda, agree on the desired outcome, or establish guidelines for how everyone in the room will work together to achieve it.
Really suck: Adjourn the meeting without any clarity around what decisions were made and who is accountable for implementing them by when.
Winning habit: Take satisfaction in developing others.
Suck: Don’t set people up to succeed by providing the resources, training, coaching and support they need to perform their jobs and get better at them.
Really suck: Catch people doing something poorly and really lay into them for not doing it right. They’ll be sure to thank you for humiliating them in front of their peers.
Most of all, if you don’t want to win, then by all means don’t practice winning! Don’t slow down to ask, “What if?” Don’t purposefully change your perspective, challenge your assumptions, or learn to see the world in new and different ways.
And whatever you do, don’t take the time to learn about how your brain is wired to think and make decisions in ways that often don’t support winning. After all, nothing supports winning in business like understanding how to use your brain differently to keep up with today’s constant technology advances and unbelievably fast rate of change.
On the other hand, if you want to play to win….well, I think by now you know what to do!
Call to action: Pick one of the above winning habits and make a commitment to improve in that area.