The obsession with being #1 is worth exploring. I understand how one company wants the highest market share for a product or an athlete or team wants to be ranked #1. But this passionate quest should not be confused with the individuals in an organization competing internally to get to the top spot – either as a business unit or individually in a role or title. Internal competition is good but becomes unhealthy when the title of #1 becomes the exclusive goal, especially when it is at expense of other individuals or departments. I see too much of the latter these days driven by both misaligned corporate incentives and overly ambitious leaders.
In a team meeting where our goals were asked, I stated that my goal was to be the best #2 person on the team. I wanted to make everyone else #1. I shared that doing so gave me more personal satisfaction than I had ever imagined. I am absolutely certain that this approach would make my role the least threatening to anyone. I have blogged on numerous occasions on the debilitating role of fear on innovation and collaboration. Being #2 is grossly under rated in this context. There are very few #1 folks out there who do not have an amazing group of #2s behind them who perform many of the critical tasks of being a successful enterprise.
This week’s EQ exercise is to practice self-awareness. What kinds of decisions do you and your team make that are self-serving and promoting? How many activities are done to help another department or person be successful? What ideas are working great for you that you can share with those you historically think of as your competition in your organization? Be a #2 this week and report back on how that makes you feel, and what impact that has had.