In It to Win It: The Strength of Competition


What exactly is the point of a participation trophy?” you ask. If everyone gets a trophy, how do you distinguish who won? To you, activities are pointless without a way to win. 

The “self-esteem at all costs” mantra is a waste of time. To you, this quote makes more sense:

Self esteem does not lead to success in life. Self-discipline and self-control do.” ~ Roy Baumeister  ClicktoTweet

In It to Win It

Rather than focusing on issues of personal feelings, equality, or self-esteem, you see competition everywhere. You feel that if you are not first, then you are last.

  • You time how long it takes you to get ready in the morning, and try to beat that every day when you wake up!
  • Maybe you even race people on the drive home, regardless of whether they know it’s a race or not.
  • You push yourself to make sure your metrics are always the best.
  • If Susan in Accounting beats you at the Holiday food drive for most cans donated one more time, you may explode!

Sound familiar? If so, you almost undoubtedly have the strength of Competition.

The Strength of Competition

Those of us strong in Competition are constantly comparing. You are inherently aware of other people’s performance and use that as your measuring tool.

Even if you achieved everything you set out to, even if you produced the best project you could have, if you did not win, you may feel unsatisfied.

Now, there is always a chance your primary competition is against yourself, but that doesn’t discount your drive to win.

Understanding Your Drive to Win

In your early years, you may have instigated races at recess, or asked everyone what grade they got on their math test. You may not have revealed your own scores, you only needed the measurements to compare so you could compete, and win.

Eventually, you learned the things you could win, the things you weren’t so likely to, and based your entrance into competitions on the likelihood you’d win.

You refined your skills and learned when to be boisterous about your win, and when it was time to be graceful and a good winner. Other people may not even notice how competitive you really are if you are sophisticated enough.

However, the difference between you and others who compete is very clear; you do not play for the fun of playing, you’re in it to win it.

The Value of Competition As a Leader

When utilized in a sophisticated manner, your competition Strength can be very valuable.

For one thing, you always know where you stand.

Metrics are important to you, primarily because they allow comparison, which is necessary for competition. Whether they are company produced metrics, or ones you’ve produced yourself, you are very clear about your abilities on the job.

You know what tasks you can execute on successfully, and the ones you cannot. If you know that you are not exceeding expectations somewhere, you probably know who is excelling in that space.

Since you have learned how to compete for the win throughout the years, you can also understand the importance of a team designed to win.

Building Winning Teams

Your constant awareness of metrics can come in handy when you are building teams, be it your own or a peer team. If it’s your team against another, you’ll make sure you have your star players exactly where they need to be based on one thing:

Do they win in that position?

Your drive and focus on being the best will set a high standard for those around you, and encourage others to step up to the plate.

Leading A “Competitor”

Leading someone with Competition, especially if you lack it, can be difficult. They may appear to be too aggressive and competitive about everything.

Some of their peers may have difficulty working with them because of this.

As their leader, there are several things you can do to push them toward sophistication with this strength.

  • If you don’t have measures for their performance, create some.
  • You don’t have to pit them directly against their teammates, you can compare their performance to goals you have set for them, or their previous performance.
  • Pair them with a high-achiever on your team- it is likely this person will not be intimidated by Competition, even if they don’t possess it, and it will give your competitor something productive to compete with.
  • Encourage them to turn mundane tasks into competitive games.
  • Celebrate their victories when they have them. This doesn’t mean you need to throw them a party, each person is different.
  • Ask them how they like to be rewarded for a job well done (a good practice for every leader for every member of the team).
  • Once you have that information, make sure you use it!

Having a sophisticated Competition on your team can be a powerful and influential tool to drive performance and results.

So, do you know someone with Competition as a strength? Are they sophisticated or unsophisticated? How can you tell? As someone with Competition, how do you adjust your competitive nature to the situation? I would love to hear your thoughts!


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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

Alexsys "Lexy" Thompson HCS, SWP
Alexsys “Lexy” Thompson is Managing Partner at Fokal Fusion
She helps building Strong Leaders through Strong People Strategy
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L2L Contributing Author


  1. Jim Trunick on November 14, 2013 at 9:05 pm

    Good discussion , and competition as leader. Hmmmm – careful. Competition against those working against our goals and targets good. Even internal competition among each other to drive results- all about it, in a fair way, to make us all better. And don’t mistake achievement for leadership. Achievement leans to me focus and leadership is them focused. Yes, I believe their is a balance and transparency becomes important to driving that balance.

  2. Lexy Thompson (@alexsysthompson) on November 19, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    Jim, thanks for your insight. There is much controversy on this type of leadership style…look at our professional sports etc. I do agree that transparency aids this leadership style. Thanks for taking the time to get in the convresation