Why Collaboration Kills the Competition

I started a 6 week fitness challenge yesterday.

In an effort to get started before the actual challenge, I rolled into the gym a few weeks ago and started working out again.  I needed a refresher.

Coach put us into teams.  My team had 3 men and me.  It's okay, I'm used to being the "one-of".

So off we went.

Coach had us doing sit-ups, push ups, kettle bell swings, and running.  It was a circuit designed to get teams to complete their exercises for time.  My "team" just couldn't or didn't want to lose.  They rushed through the exercises and did whatever they could to finish.  In a word, it was chaos.

As I watched, I couldn't help but notice the mess they were creating around our workout space.  Loose weights and tripping hazards abounded.  I stopped to pick things up. I even intervened in the middle of a near miss situation.  I cared enough because our safety was more important to me than bragging rights.

When it came my turn to do my circuit, I overheard my colleague say...

"I wish she'd hurry up.  She's holding us back."

We finished 2nd to last. Admittedly I love a good competition.  But, I'm a competitive person with myself.   And I cannot be a sore loser when it's clear why we didn't win.  We didn't deserve it!

We played to compete, not to collaborate or win.


We didn't come together as a team.

Have you ever worked in a team like this?  Of course you have.  Silos and know-it-alls (KIAs) drive dysfunction, disengagement and waste.  People who have all the answers are competitive types who don't see the value in connecting ideas, people, and skills to make great things happen.  They see finish lines, titles, prizes, scoreboards, and awards.

So how do you play to win?  My mantra has, and will always be "TEAM"... nothing gets done by one person alone.

Together. Everyone. Achieves. More.

Plain and simple, a team is about collaboration.  Let's break it down.

Together:  We don't have to agree, but coming together means we have mutual respect. It looks and sounds like,  "I hear you.  I understand you.  I value your inputs."

Everyone:  In the teams I've led, I invite and give 'everyone' a role. Does this mean the team needs to be 20 people in membership?  No.  Steve Jobs has his best team meetings with a critical few.  The point is 'everyone' means you've got the right representation.

Achieves:  A few years back, a team I led was awarded a top honor for our work and results in driving down fatalities in our business unit across 18 countries.  As a member of the central team, I found it hard to accept this accomplishment because when you have a team working together, everyone achieves.  I immediately suggested that we honor local leaders who stood out as champions in our project.

More:   If you're in a team that plays to each other's strengths, sometimes more can mean less.   It might eliminating waste so you have more resources to do things.

So who won our race that day?  The team that worked together, looked out for each other and coached themselves to a successful and safe win.

How are you collaborating and building team in your work?  What's holding you back?

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