Quintessential Leaders Do Not Create a Competitive Environment for Their Teams

Posted: February 12, 2016 in Examples and Analyses of Quintessential Leadership
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Competitive environments are toxic“I’m the best.” “Nobody else is as good as me.” “Let me tell you how awful everybody else is compared to me.” “Follow me because I’m a winner.” “Look at me and how great I am compared to everyone else.”

We live in a winner-takes-all society where competition among people is the norm. The language of this competitive environment exalts one person and denigrates and dismisses everybody else. This is the very opposite of the word team.

Creating an environment that is competitive destroys any hope of building a team that is cohesive, well-structured according to the talents and abilities needed, and that is actually functional and moving forward as a unit.

Unfortunately, we see competitive environments all around us. Instead of a group of people working together toward a common goal, we see people competing against each other for top billing, for superstar status, for incentives, for raises, and for promotions.

In the process, lives are destroyed, reputations are pummeled, and souls are crushed.

I came across a recent study that highlighted an interesting outcome among people who did something only to compete against other people for an outcome versus people who simply did something because they wanted to achieve that goal.

Those who did something only to compete with the goal of winning became intrinsically more dishonest in life. In other words, these people were more likely to lie, to cheat, to crush other people by any means simply to win – at everything.

When people in leadership positions compete with each other and try to outdo each other – and this is more common than not – and they create competitive environments where team members are literally pitted against and compared to each other, the result is toxicity and failure.

Quintessential leaders, on the other hand, recognize that each person on the team has unique skills and abilities. After all, that’s why each of those people is on the team!

If you have a group of people who can all do the same thing with varying degrees of success and they all know the same thing to one degree or another, then you don’t have a team. You might as well pick one person and fire the rest if that’s what you believe will create successful outcomes (it won’t, by the way).

Dishonesty, the byproduct of a competitive environment, will ultimately destroy everythingTo pit a team of people with different skills and abilities, all of which are necessary to achieve goals, complete projects, and create a productive and profitable organization, against each other by having them compete against each other will destroy any desire to help each other, to support each other, and to work collaboratively to make forward progress.

Instead you will have an environment where everyone is undermining everyone else. You will have an environment where people are cheating. You will have an environment where people are lying about each other. You will have an environment of mistrust.

Additionally, when mistakes are made, they will be hidden for as long as possible – usually snowballing into the level of catastrophe – and when they are discovered, no one will take the responsibility for them, but instead everyone will be pointing the finger at and blaming everyone else.

Quintessential leaders know that people competing with other people is a recipe for disaster. It enables the worst traits that we humans have lurking just around the corner in our hearts, our souls, and our minds, and it encourages us to bring them out on full display at full-tilt speed.

No one wins when people are competing against other people. People are destroyed and when people are destroyed, organizations are ultimately destroyed. A competitive environment will eventually bring utter and absolute failure.

Each of us who is striving to become a quintessential leaders must always look in our own mirrors to see where we stand. The face looking back at us must be completely honest in examining ourselves. Anything less is unacceptable.

Do we do things simply to compete against other people to win?

Do we employ dishonesty – lying, cheating, crushing other people, etc. – to win?

Do we even care (the end justifies the means)?

How are we doing?


  1. So true. Guess you could use that old phrase, “It’s A Dog, Eat Dog World.” I have encountered so many people in this life who seem to think they are so superior to others. I must admit I truly do not like those who think they are better than everyone else. My outlook in life is get the job done and cooperate with others to achieve that goal. Do not try to cut the other guy’s throat to accomplish any goal. I truly do not want the glory of a job well done, if a dozen people are involved, I believe we all deserve the same recognition. Sad how human beings behave – God is watching.


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