Compete or Collaborate – A Distinct Way to Create Organizational Advantage

Irunning a race_business peoplen a few weeks I will have the opportunity to head to Atlanta with a group from the University of Houston’s Sales Excellence Institute for a sales competition.  The event is the NCSC and it touts itself as “the largest and oldest sales competition in existence”.  The purpose is to provide students a chance to demonstrate their selling skills while at the same time gaining access to top companies searching for qualified job candidates.  Up until this year I had no idea this event even existed; but being a part of the coaching staff has opened my eyes to the enormous benefits for both the students and companies involved.  It’s a showcase for the best of the best!

Our team started with four of the best and brightest sales students from our program.  These talented people spent the past few months practicing and being coached in preparation for the event.  Along the way, they are being evaluated to determine progress until we ultimately select two individuals to represent the university.  Last week we had our final selection session and after great skill demonstrations and a well-designed debate, we finalized our competitors!  What’s unique about this process is that the other two individuals who were NOT selected to be part of the competition duo will still make the trip and be part of the event.  I was so impressed by the way that this entire group of four students navigated the process that it challenged me to think about what type of team member I would be if I had to make a quick shift from competing to collaborating.  Would I be able to do it in a way that would be helpful to the group or more hurtful because of the nagging impact of not being chosen to compete?  The truth is our workplaces need more people who can collaborate and fewer who want to solely compete against others so that organizations can maximize the potential of the team.  By harnessing this characteristic and anchoring in the principle of excellence organizations are able to produce results far beyond what any one person is able to accomplish.

One of my favorite standards for excellence is found in the Bible in Paul’s letter to the Colossians.  Paul encourages this group of people in chapter 3, verse 23 that “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men.”  That word “heartily” means exceedingly well, or abundantly above something.  More directly stated; whatever you do, do it with excellence as if you are doing it for the Lord Himself, because ultimately, He is who we are living for.  When we apply the principle of excellence and seek to serve the Lord it takes our focus off of ourselves and helps to guard against selfishness and self-centeredness.  Collaboration helps to foster a similar result.  When we compete against others we are drawn to look solely at ourselves while collaboration extends our thinking to consider others around us.  It is a more powerful way to build a team and take on the challenges that come our way at work.

As I mentioned earlier, we narrowed down our student competitors from four to two and the initial reaction from the group was one of collaboration and encouragement.  I am looking forward to being part of the event and watching our team pursue a spirit of excellence and collaboration next week.  Who knows; maybe we can even come back with a victory!

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