Performance enhancement. It’s all over the sports pages, it dominated the business news during the credit default crisis, it fills your email spam folder. So we could take the conversation in a lot of directions. Is it a predominantly male ego competition thing? Well we’ve seen lots of doping in female athletes and financial manipulation by female CEOs. Is the accelerated expectation of every conceivable domain? Technology has conditioned us to expect instant, online, as requested fulfillment. If the 1970’s were the “Me” generation, the 2010’s are the “Now” generation. Is it the density of competition and scarcity of opportunity in our post industrial economy?
What ever happened to ‘it’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game’. Fairness, cooperation and a service attitude are all but gone from most spheres of modern life. We seem to operate under the assumption of a zero sum gain. If there is a winner there has to be a loser. I even saw an advertisement during the British Open golf tournament that essentially pointed out the gift that the losers give the winners (without the loser there would be no winner).
In her book Influencing with Integrity, Genie Laborde presents a concept I have been implementing and teaching about ever since I read it. The idea is ‘Dovetailed Outcomes’. The way to get more done through cooperation is to make sure that we have a clear idea what our partner wants and needs from the interaction, project, purchase etc. What is there desired outcome? What is ours? When we get those two things in line with each other, we both win if we are both successful.
What if at the end of an interaction there are two winners and not a winner and a loser.
That method applies in sales, software design, staff management, marriage, politics and everywhere else. Getting to dovetailed outcomes requires a clear vision of my own goals and needs and an empathetic understanding of the needs of my ‘partner’ whether that is a trading partner, project sponsor, project teammate, employee, dance partner et. al. Achieving those rewards for both parties forces me to think beyond the immediate and see the longer term value to be created.
Now in a sports event, there are winners and losers. It made me crazy when all of my daughters soccer games ended in a tie. Children need to learn that some activities involve a score and that one side wins and the other loses. We can’t give out bogus trophies all the time and create a false image. What we can do however, is notice where our focus of communication is placed. When I coached kid’s softball I told my team we had the following goals;
- learn the game and the skills so at the end of the season we were better players than at the start.
- support each other as teammates and behave in a sportsman like manner with opponents, umpires, parents etc.
- have fun
So I didn’t come from the Lombardy school of coaching. For my teams winning wasn’t the only thing, but it was something.