Sunday, January 2, 2022


It is important to run away from the shadow of unhealthy competitions, and thrive on healthy competitions between ideas and values that stimulate creative problem-solving and drive social progress.

It’s the beginning of the new year, it’s also the great time to overcome shadow thinking and rejuvenate positive energy for moving forward confidently. In reality, the workplace competition is not always positive, it is the energy behind the competition that matters sometimes. 

The goals or motivation behind competition can be unhealthy and the competitive arena can produce a myriad of unwise mentality and negative externalities. How to encourage professionalism and healthy competitions for innovative problems-solving and transformative changes?

Unprofessionalism suffocates individuals or businesses' changeability or diminishes the brightness of their true talent: There are many reasons to compete, and there are many ways to compete. In the organizations that get stuck at change or discourage creativity, sometimes people hold the negative attitude about healthy competition, because they assume if someone wins the competition and shows the talent, they might feel intimidated and struggle in the survival mentality, further causing negative psychology to compete unhealthily. To put it another way, unprofessional workplace competition can create unhealthy rivalries, perhaps creating undue stress that may actually prove to be counterproductive and become the very cause of employee disengagement and talent shortage. Without negative competitions, we would be able to use our talents and capability for the betterment and further unleash potential.

How to discourage unprofessional competition? It’s important to develop a culture of authenticity, learning and innovation by integrating talent management, change/culture management, and performance management systems seamlessly. We all have talents each on our own, we all need to spend time on developing skills and building unique competencies. The management needs to have the wise eyes to identify their innovators and change champions, the people who present a positive mentality, empower them to lead progressive changes. The purpose of competition is to inspire creative thinking and improve business competency. As leaders, you need to set great examples, be more confident and conscious rather than be threatened by growth minds or strong characters.

Unhealthy competitions enlarge gaps, cause psychological confusion & frustrations, and stifle collective human progress: In the industrial age with scarce knowledge, people have silo mentality and organizations is formed with overly restrictive hierarchy; the management shows command & control style that often cause unhealthy internal competitions for limited resources, the business becomes the sum of pieces, organizations lose their collaborative advantage as the whole. Unhealthy competitions enlarge cognitive gaps by generating psychological confusion & frustrations, resource/talent alignment gaps which further impede innovation and strategy implementation, Oftentimes, either for individuals or businesses, if you only keep your eyes on competitors and how to beat them down, without laser focus on building your own unique set of competencies based on your own innate ability, you perhaps get trapped towards unprofessional competitions.

Still, to fix the root cause of problems such as unhealthy competition, the real issue is to figure out the motivation or purpose behind the competition psychologically, sociologically or methodologically. Unhealthy competitions create unhealthy rivalries that result in workers resenting one another or encourage unprofessional mentality or behavior, diminish trust and stifle innovation. Technically, if there is a lack of trust, then there would most likely be an over-abundance of control mechanisms. Even though you can control people’s behavior for a while, you perhaps cannot fix their psychology that might cause long term concerns. In order to build trust, it’s important to encourage positive mentality, constructive feedback and good behaviors for establishing the collaborative framework with checks and balances within the teams to inspire constructive disruption and radical innovation.

Competition to delay problem-solving or cause more serious issues for the long term is unhealthy:
Corporate leaders play a significant role in shaping constructive competition philosophy and practices. Without a clear vision, competition is short-sighted; without good intention and great purpose, negative competition becomes a severe social problem, because it encourages arrogant attitude, bad behaviors, delays problem-solving, causes a culture of inertia and ultimately tarnished the reputation of great individuals, organizations or society. It is important to run away from the shadow of unhealthy competitions, and thrive on healthy competitions between ideas and values that stimulate creative problem-solving and drive social progress. Competition to catalyze digital innovation is great. Strong leaders create a harmonized working environment by communicating smoothly, giving everyone a voice in how the organization and the people in it can prosper and thrive, inspire healthy competitions based on people’s talent and competency, and take a collaborative road to problem-solving harmoniously.

Competition, in and of itself, is not inherently bad. The quality of competition is not only dependent on the quality of participants, but also the assessors who can drive the competitions toward the culture you would like to develop and the type of innovation/competency the organization needs to build on. With talented and wise assessors with a set of ultra-modern mindsets, plus a set of common principles that all parties agree with, the competitions could be fair enough to lead the changes we all would like to see. The highly qualified and professional participants can even get respect from competitors. High mature digital business can provide a more intensive and creative working environment to get all the right people with the right capability in the right position to solve the right problems from right angles timely by appreciating true talent, recognizing the real problem-solvers, and inspiring healthy competitions.

If the digital organization or society is a living body, every individual is like an active cell to keep growing and flowing, to unlock their potential. Competition and collaboration are both natural in a business environment or human society, the point is to understand the special context and situations, encourage professionalism and innovation. The new year is always a good start to renew positive energy, enhance trust, with the goal to encourage innovation. Over time, things change, we humans are developing, growing and competing with purpose and choice are part of that evolutionary process and accelerate collective human progress.


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