Competitive or performing?

August 11, 2019 - In Our Minds

It’s a question I often ask because, for me, it encompasses two very different notions. First, the performer is motivated to go above and beyond, to succeed as a team and deliver results. Second, the competitive person compares (to last quarter’s results, the other team, the competition…), in a spirit of competition. Competitiveness doesn’t always translate into success. Power doesn’t always come from a competitive spirit. The idea is to identify what drives us, what motivates our actions. What keeps us going, even when the going is tough.

Performance (or grit) is the idea of accomplishing and even surpassing your goals. How the Best of the Best Get Better and Better, a well-crafted piece by the Harvard Business Review, explains that a top performer possesses the same qualities that can make the difference between a top athlete and an Olympic athlete. The competitive person will give in to discouragement, to thoughts of losing, while the performer will look for opportunities and find ways to deliver. When recruiting, it’s important to remember the differences that define talent, but also company or team culture.

Fascinating story from a client

This client’s marketing department is made up of about twenty people, of whom half are elite athletes. These are people who let nothing get in their way – problems, complications, competition – nothing. Their energy is focused on exceeding, and that calls specific management and candidate profiling. In the context of recruitment, it’s important to understand these dynamics. For example, for this particular client, the expert who is not in a communication mode with other specialisations will have some difficulties adapting. Furthermore, if someone is not motivated by overcoming ideas and/or objectives, he/she will find the natural pressure of this kind of context to be very difficult to bear. As a result we will notice a "clash" or a wrong casting towards the cultural fit.

Know yourself and be yourself

Managers who practice self-awareness are free to be themselves and demonstrate their authentic self – therefore cultivating better connections with candidates. When a client says: “I know myself. I’m impatient, and I don’t like repeating myself three times,” what they’re telling us is that they need talent that’s resourceful and autonomous. For this technology company, the cultural contribution is fascinating because it allows the company, which relies heavily on performance, to put together a team capable of revolutionizing their field – and nothing less.

Competitive or performing? It depends on the role.

However, today, the two profiles must be open to learning, trying, and demonstrating that they’re ready to reach their full potential.

Other reads that have inspired me:

Greatness Doesn’t Start With Work/Life Balance – It starts with hard work and a passion for the business

Grit: The power of passion and perseverance


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