Some say being able to compete and win pushes us to strive beyond what we think we can achieve. By competing, we push ourselves to take risks and become better prepared in a world where risk-taking seems to be a requirement to survive. Others say that when we compete, it's just wrong. Period. Whichever side we are on, one thing seems certain: Those with Competition in their top 5 Strengthsfinder results tend to be misunderstood because of people's different worldviews on competitiveness. Many with Competition are often labelled as "sore losers" or "people who like to put others down." While there is some truth in that (particularly when the Competition talent theme is still in its infancy stage), there is so much more to this often misunderstood talent theme.
People with Competition in their top 5 Strengthsfinder results often desire to win. The quest to have that winning edge drives them and pushes them to excel (often beyond what they think they are capable of). Leaders with Competition create metrics designed for each team member to build performance and drive innovation. They desire to put team members in their strongest field. They desire to build strong team bonds. All these are done so that a team can breed a winning mentality. While that doesn't mean every contest will be won, a winning mentality is often the difference between a high-performance team and an average team.
People with Competition in their top 5 Strengthsfinder results compare themselves with others intuitively. The comparison with others helps them to know where they are at. People with Competition find for themselves a worthy benchmark that will motivate them towards a goal. Surpassing the benchmark puts a smile on their face. The benchmark can be a person, a hallmark or record, or a particular ranking. People with Competition have a love-hate relationship with worthy opponents. They love the sense of knowing there is someone of a very high standard pushing them to be better. They hate it when they lose to the opponent. The genius of the Competition talent lies in the ability to push oneself and others towards higher levels of performance.
In Strengths School™ Singapore, two of my team members have the Competition talent theme. They are the ones who constantly motivate us to become even better. They love the idea of measurement and constantly create worthy benchmarks for the rest of the team to strive towards excellence. The benchmarks, which include our revenue target, number of new clients (both in Singapore and beyond), recurring clients, satisfaction scores of our workshops, a chart comparing against other great Singapore companies' etc, are made known to the team and reinforced regularly through visual reminders displayed across the office. Every win and every achievement is celebrated, and there is a culture to fight hard for each other to become the best.
How can a person with Competition turn this talent into a Strength? Here are some suggestions:
1. FOCUS ON MASTERY
For those with Competition, one of the pitfalls is focusing excessively on how rivals are doing. When people with Competition fall into this trap, they become obsessed with 'not losing' rather than identifying the winning edge. Instead, they should develop their own winning edge by pursuing mastery in the areas of their ability. Guiding questions include "What are we good at? What have others commented that we are good at? What can we offer and value add that set us apart from others? How can we create a name and be known for what we can offer?" By knowing one's own strengths as well as the strengths of the team, those with Competition can work towards creating an edge which will differentiate their team from other rivals. Being able to maximize the competitive advantage of the team is important in creating a winning culture.
2. TEAM COLLABORATION
When those with Competition choose to compete against fellow team members rather than with external parties, the result is usually destructive. While a person with Competition has a huge desire to win, having a team orientation or a “WE win” mentality is often more beneficial than an individual orientation or a “I win” mentality.
A key question that can be asked is “How can I make my team leader successful?" or "How can I make my other team members successful?” When the drive to win is used powerfully to help different team members be at their best, people with Competition often find that they themselves are spurred on by their team members' excellence and perform at a much higher level. Taking a collaborative approach thus empowers those with Competition to break through to higher levels of performances.
3. SEEK COMPLEMENTARY PARTNERSHIP
Partner those with Connectedness
People with Connectedness enjoy being part of something bigger, and intuitively grasp why integration and cooperation between people is important. They also enjoy seeing the bigger picture. Such a partnership can help a team move from focusing on individual wins to creating a winning formula for the entire team through collaboration. Partnering with Connectedness also helps those with Competition not to lose sight of the bigger picture whenever small losses occur along the way.
Partner those with Responsibility
People with Responsibility take high ownership of their tasks and do things right, without cutting corners. They are known to be dependable and trustworthy. Partnering with Responsibility empowers those with Competition to focus not just on "winning" but to pursue "winning right". This is integral for the team to obtain a great name and reputation.
Partner those with Positivity
People with Positivity are contagious with their optimism, and are great at creating a fun and enthusiastic atmosphere anywhere. They will cheer and encourage team members to move forward amidst fierce competition and the inevitable team losses, while those with Competition will encourage the team to push on towards winning as a team and not give up. Such a partnership is powerful in teams that function in very fierce competitive environments.
Concluding thoughts: With the notion of 'competing' being polarized in many segments of society, people with Competition often face the challenge to be comfortable with who they are. But one thing is certain - if you can graciously accept that those with Competition are wired the way they are for a reason and purpose, you will find that you can count on them to be the drivers of breakthrough, for they seek to be the best in who they are and what they do.
Written by Victor Seet
Activator • Communication • Strategic • Self-Assurance • Command
As a Gallup Certified Singapore Strengthsfinder coach, Victor is passionate about strengths engagement and now runs his own training company, Strengths School™ (strengthsschool.com), based in Singapore. He has been actively giving Strengthsfinder leadership and team building workshops to businesses and schools in Singapore as well as Hong Kong, China (Shanghai) and India.