Skip to Content

Is It Possible to Be Too Competitive?

Competitiveness is often seen as key to having a winning edge in selling.

The early bird gets the worm

The victor receives the spoils

The winner takes the victory lap, and so on.

Yet competitiveness has to go hand in hand with collaboration because data indicate that collaborative business teams show better results than ones that don’t collaborate.

Is it possible to be too competitive? Yes, if competition hinders the development of any sort of collaborative culture. After all, everything from promising leads to closing methods can be shared productively.

A recent Harvard Business Review points out that salespeople who may be too competitive look for ways to become more collaborative, and to make their teams more collaborative.

The first step is to check and see how others view you. Are you seen as overly competitive? It may be getting in the way of teamwork if so.

The HBR suggests performing a “360.” In other words, ask relevant colleagues to describe you. Look at their feedback. Do you see an overly competitive person there?

…but collaboration has a place too.

Mutual Outcomes

Whether you are or aren’t, another way to drive more collaboration in the workplace is to look for three outcomes, rather than just one that fulfills your needs. You want your needs fulfilled, yes; that’s a valid goal, but only one out of the three. The other is to see that what the other person wants is provided, and the third is to see how both needs can be fulfilled to the company’s benefit.

what the customer wants + what we want = mutually beneficial outcome

What if you are dealing with a super competitive person who really doesn’t want to work with you to meet your company’s needs? After all, many top salespeople get that way by cultivating leads and methods that are the equivalent of their secret sauce. They’re not going to give it away.

One solution is to ask for their advice. Most people are flattered at being asked to give advice and will give at least some recommendations from their playbook. Advice is a form of networking that draws people into collaborative relationships, even if they are trying to avoid it.

Walk Away If Necessary

What if the hypercompetitive remain hypercompetitive? Business Insider recommends thinking back to the playing fields of yesterday. There is sometimes one member of a team who simply doesn’t seem to get that, you know, it’s a team. They, and sometimes their friends and family, can make the competition a winner-takes-all event if they are allowed.

Don’t allow them. Bond with your buds – either the competitive-but-willing-to-collaborate team players, other work colleagues, or folks outside of work.

Remember Other Relationships

In search of a more collaborative ideal in the midst of a competitive environment, it’s also important to remember other people on the team. Not all your team members are other salespeople. Collaborate with them on projects, work in development, even office chit-chat.

Competition is a great asset, and it’s necessary to win. But collaborative groups get better results. Try these methods if you have supercompetitive colleagues, and work toward a more collaborative environment.