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Episode 17: Can Competition Be Good for a Team?

podcast team building Apr 19, 2022

What is motivating to one person isn’t motivating at all to another. And as a leader, you’ve probably figured out that not all incentives work the same. 

“Some people on my team are motivated by competition. How could I nurture a little competition without compromising the health of the team?”

You’ve done something differently with competition in how you are asking the question. It’s that positioning that is key to unlocking the answer to your question. 


Let’s start by talking about competition as a strength. That’s how you started the question – some of the people on your team are motivated by competition. 

  • A compare and contrast way of seeing the world
  • Motivated by rising above some standard they can compare to others 
  • Looking for something they can measure themselves against
  • Cheering on others to pursue the goal
  • Fueled by people who can push them to be better


You might be concerned that competition can turn unhealthy in a team setting if you get caught up in comparing. Couldn’t it be a vicious cycle? Stop the cycle by anchoring into what success means to the whole team. The beauty of teams – and a healthy team culture is embracing and leveraging this strength for the good of the team. AND sometimes dialing it back so that other team strengths can come to the forefront. Call out other strengths that you see and figure out how you can leverage those in motivating the team. 


Experiment with an idea. Check in on it with the team about how it felt for them. Reflect on what you would do differently and based on the feedback how often you want to spice it up. Then, try it again. You can use the same approach - experiment, check in, reflect, try again – as you identify other motivations of the team so your only spice in your spice rack isn’t competition. Besides it will be more flavorful if you add in a variety of spice combinations.

Thanks for the question! You’ve probably got more questions and you don’t have to settle on one. Because in leadership we’ve got plenty of questions as we live in that tension. 


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