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Teamwork – Competitive or collaborative

Can there be a leader without a team? And can there be a team without a leader? A leader and his team have a symbiotic relationship which is best when it is a mutually beneficial one. A lot has already been said about the advantages of teamwork, but I think the real challenge for a leader is not get the team to work together, but to creatively and effectively channelize the competitive spirit of the teammates into collaborative tasks.

So then, is a collaborative team better than a competitive one? Would you prefer a more competitive environment which encourages individual contribution, improves problem solving skills and innovation to stay ahead? Or would you opt to work in a collaborative culture which assures that each person has a voice, is inclusive and respects diversity.

Well there are two sides to a coin and a team which is highly competitive will often have instances of backstabbing, information hoarding and of course in fighting. A purely collaborative environment on the other hand is a breeding ground for mediocrity, extremely slow decision making and no impetus for employees to step outside their comfort zones. But then, collaborative cultures improve creativity because everyone is in a more relaxed environment.

My submission is, that a competitive team, which knows to work collaboratively will give the best output. A smart leader is one who finds ways to promote healthy competition within the team; ensures that ideas are shared, achievements are celebrated and there is collective responsibility for failure. Collaboration and competition need to co-exist because one without the other is never the sustainable way to be. Some may feel that the competitive streak in a team may result in alienating the weak members. But I believe that it is the competitive spirit in a collaborative environment that gives the weaker teammates an opportunity to better themselves. It provides them a chance to learn from others and motivates them to self-improve.

Great teams are made up of people who compete well, respect each other’s’ views and contribute equally. They understand that for excellence to become a habit, you need to practise it over and over until it becomes second nature. Success comes from each member having a distinctive yet complementary role. The best teams are those which combine individual drive with the understanding of the importance and power of the team.

A great leader creates a great team and it is the responsibility of a leader to ensure a healthy balance of collaboration and competition within his team. Many of us may think that collaboration and competition cannot exits together, but the fact is, collaboration and competition nurture each other. Competition encourages people to give their best and collaboration encourages the team to put everyone’s talent to the best use.

October 19, 2019 Blog
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