When Less Is More Than Zero

Many people in positions of power believe every situation must have a winner and a loser. An outcome that fits the classic definition of a “Zero Sum Game.”

Is this winner take all mindset the best way to compete in the market or advance a career? Does a real leader need to crush a rival to succeed? Does a true leader’s gain have to come from a competitor’s loss?

Is there another way?

Competition does not occur in a vacuum. Business is a complex environment. There are people and organizations, relationships and reputations, and finally, handshakes and contracts. A knowledgeable leader appreciates how their actions reflect on their reputation. Their conduct, as much as their outcomes determine how current partners and future competitors regard them.

The wise leader considers all possibilities. They reflect on opinion and examine data. They negotiate with peers and contemplate contracts. Throughout this process, they remain open to cooperation over conflict.

A mindful leader resolves to do the right thing given their circumstances and goals. They strive to advance the best solution, appreciating that mutual gain is a viable option. And, if this is the case, they work to maximize the outcome and negotiate a win-win solution.

How do leaders accomplish this?

They forget about “winning.” They abandon their emotional investment to gain the desired outcome. They focus on the moment. Through detachment, the mindful leader abandons the exhilaration of winning and the fear of losing. This objectivity allows them to find the best solution to the problem, not the most sensational.

A detached viewpoint offers clarity and perspective. It allows the attentive leader to see and understand the totality of the situation. This encourages unbiased analysis, open communication, and allows for good faith negotiations. And, even if no agreement is forthcoming, the potential for future dealings remains a possibility.

Can competition be cooperative?

Strong leaders are willing to put aside their personal passion to win for a more strategic and collaborative course of action. These leaders do not sacrifice goals and allegiances, they do remain open to negotiation and compromise.

True leaders forget about winning and losing. They do not keep score. They focus on the process of accomplishing what they can and should do. By taking the information they have and seeing it clearly, they make the best of any situation.

Regardless of the final score, they humbly take responsibility for their actions.