In October, I began a blog series about the characteristics of a professional; you can read the introduction to the series here. This post is the 7th in a series of 10 that will be posted over the coming weeks.
Make certain that a victory is a positive victory
Connected to the idea of looking ahead discussed in the previous blog post, we also need to be certain that a victory right now will continue to be a victory in the future. We may be able to make a decision that will provide us with short-term gain, but that decision may not be the best in the long run. Many short-term decisions just delay the difficult decisions a little bit by pushing them into the future. We want to make certain that the short-term victory that we achieve now will not lead to a later, and perhaps more important, defeat.
In sports there are two different ways to achieve victory. One way to achieve victory is to score more than the other team (a win with offense). The other way to win is to prevent the other team from scoring more than you (a win with defense). Either way can be successful and in sports, the fans of the winning team are happy no matter which strategy their teams use to win.
In business there are also two ways to win. The first is to demonstrate that your point, your idea, or your course of action is better than the others. The other way to win is to prove that the other points, ideas, and courses of action are worse than yours. Unlike in sports where people my not care which strategy is used, I do not think that that is true in business. Would you rather be promoted by being told, “Brian we are certain that you are the best person for this job and we are happy to offer you this promotion.” Or, the alternative, “Well, Brian, we looked as far and as wide as we could, and we just couldn’t find anyone better than you. You are the best of the unqualified. The job is yours until someone better comes along.”
I worked in a couple of companies that had very different cultures about how people worked together and saw their future in the company. In one company, the culture was very collaborative where people worked together and helped each other because we wanted to do better than the previous year. In this environment, the victory was a positive victory for everyone involved because it was a victory of doing better than we had done in the past.
In the other company, the culture was much more individualistic. The idea among people seemed to be more along the lines of, “if only one of us will get promoted, I will do everything that I can to make certain that it is me and not you.” This is a victory that results from being the least bad, and it does not create a culture that will be very productive going forward when the least bad becomes the supervisor.
If the process of winning destroys relationships, closes doors, or eliminate future opportunities, the victory will be short-term and empty. A true victory is one that does not have losers (and maybe even has multiple winners) and will create more opportunities and benefits for everyone in the future.
Brian Hock, CMA, CIA