Four Ways to Overcome the Win-Loss Mentality

I’ve noticed an increasingly prevalent point-of-view in the workplace and in society in general these days: it’s the view that if I win, someone else has to lose. While this belief is true in the sports world (and should be), it’s not always applicable in the corporate world, especially within the organizations we lead.

When a colleague performs poorly at work, it doesn’t make me look better. If my teammate is scolded for making a mistake, I shouldn’t gloat in the fact that I wasn’t the one who screwed up. A win for me doesn’t, and shouldn’t, result in a loss for my co-workers.

So, how can we overcome this win-loss mentality within our teams? Here are four suggestions:

  1. Problem solve together. In other words, it shouldn’t be “best idea wins.” Instead of focusing on coming up with the winning idea, encourage your teammates to build upon one another’s thoughts. The winning idea should be the result of everyone’s feedback. Seldom does one person have the best idea.
  2. Encourage risk taking. When employees are afraid to fail, the result is fewer ideas, less innovation, and an environment of low standards. High standards require more risk, but they also result in a bigger return.
  3. Redefine failure. Every failure contains within it a learning opportunity. Teach your teammates to dig out of failure by finding the learning moments. By doing that, you mentally redefine failure into learning and experience. This creates an environment where people aren’t afraid to try new things or speak up with new ideas.
  4. Hire strong talent. Sometimes our competitiveness can lead us to hire weak colleagues to ensure we remain looking the best. The reality is hiring great talent creates a wave of intensity that lifts talent at all levels.

Don’t get me wrong. A little heathy, good natured competition in the workplace can be a great thing, and we definitely want to be able to compete against our competitors. However, what we want to avoid is lowing our standards or our teammates’ performance so that our individual performance shines brighter. Rather than lowering your standards, identify high performers, learn from them, and keep your focus on improving your skills.

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