Is There an ‘I’ in ‘Team’? Does Competition Have a Place in the Team Environment?

Is There an 'I' in 'Team' Does Competition Have a Place in the Team Environment

Many leaders will respond to this question with a simple “no” – it is only the team goals that matter. How realistic is that?

It is a simple fact that humans are naturally competitive. This has been true since the time we lived in caves and competed for food, mates, and shelter. The evidence can still be seen on television, in bars, and at sports stadiums around the globe. What should the workplace look like?

This is an instinct that we all have, so it would be a good leadership strategy to recognize it and use it to the benefit of the group, not to its detriment.

Failure to address competitiveness

It can lead to one of two outcomes:

It is so hard to resist it that stasis and general lack of interest take control – nothing happens!
We let it go so that an environment of ultra-competitiveness reigns and ruins our journey towards team goals.
None of these options will work. How can we meet this person’s need?

The Value of Recognition and Reward

It is possible to turn the dangers of ego and the desire for personal achievement into positives for your team by creating a culture that rewards and recognizes.

If we are able to practice strong leadership, it is possible to strike a balance in an environment that recognizes that people have a social need for belonging to a team.

This is why it is essential to understand the primitive brain areas that have not changed much over time. These areas are responsible for our natural pleasures, recognition, reward, and recognition and release neurochemicals that make you feel great, like dopamine or serotonin. We have the same desire to achieve the ‘top’ as our ancestors. However, our ‘top” is not food or mating chains. Instead, it is other goals. Our brains respond the same way to social status, recognition for a job done well, and personal success as our ancestors’ leaders.

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We love to be praised and rewarded. Research is showing that these are key to long-term motivation and high performance at work.

How about the money?

Contrary to what many may believe, money doesn’t play a significant role in fulfilling this desire to reach the top. Neuroscience has shown that happiness and basic needs are not linked. Money seems to have a limited effect on motivation. This may explain why money is often used to get us into jobs but not to keep us there.

An environment where money is all that matters can lead to a workplace culture that celebrates success and encourages fear, competition, and fear. Our brain’s primitive fear centers produce stress responses when we sense danger. Money helps us feel secure, so we can become emotionally overexcited and have a negative impact on our personal and team performance.

It is essential to foster a culture that rewards and recognizes employees, regardless of monetary bonuses or raises.

Bring it together

If the leader is competent enough, personal success can be achieved within the framework of team success. It is essential to recognize the primitive brain’s needs and not blindly pretend that they do not exist. Leaders can create a workplace where team members are able to celebrate their successes and receive the rewards they desire instead of trying to avoid the negatives, which can lead to being stuck.


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