Photo Credit: Creative Commons User: Pavement Pieces

I love a good competition. Whether we’re talking about sports, board games, or racing to the car, I love the rush of adrenaline you get when the heat is on.

But when it comes to an organization, competition can be healthy or unhealthy. Unhealthy team competition says, “If you win, I lose. If I win, you lose.” Healthy team competition says, “I want to continually improve…because I see you continually getting better. If you win, I win. If you and I win, WE win.”

Many teams, unfortunately, operate on the “win/lose” spectrum of competition.

How do you know if you’re on that kind of team? Here is a test. Check any of the following that apply

  • I get frustrated when another team member “takes” my leader.
  • I have no concern for who I recruit for my team…it doesn’t matter what other team they serve on or what their other commitments are.
  • I have never suggested a leader to be a part of another team…I’ve only recruited for my own.
  • I have said this: “I can’t believe how much budget money the _____ team gets. We need more money than they do because we’re having an impact with ______.”
  • I better have a conversation with that new guy. He’s solid, and I don’t want _____ to snatch him up first.
  • I have said this: “I know you’re helping out with the ______ team, but you’re better than that. If you want, we can give you a more important role with us.”
  • I have thought this: “If I sit down with _____ to recruit them to leadership, I’m only thinking positions on my team. I don’t have the time, energy, or desire to think and recruit for other teams.”
  • I have thought this: “It doesn’t matter how a person is gifted or what their passions are…we have a need on our team, and this person could fill it.”

If you checked any of the above boxes, you have a “win/lose” mindset that is detrimental to your organization’s overall success. And it’s time to shift to a win/win mindset.

Win/win is not simply a personality trait. It’s also not that the person who strives for win/win in an organization is afraid of conflict. Teams that strive for win/win know that a win for another team in an organization is a win for the everyone. Your win is our win. Your loss is our loss.

How do you make this transition with your organization?

Shifting to a Win/Win Mindset

1. Quit viewing your team as a silo.

Instead, begin to view your team as a part of the whole organization, with everybody contributing to the overall health. If the organization is simply one silo, then every “win” means the whole silo “wins.” Every “loss” means the whole silo “loses.”

2. Meet with other team leaders to find out their needs.

Gather multiple team leaders together and find out what needs they have. I recently met with our church’s small groups team, and we shared with each other the leadership holes we each have. It’s important for us to know cross-ministry leadership roles so that when we’re recruiting a potential leader, we each have in the back of our mind, “College ministry needs 5 new leaders, adult small groups needs 2, elementary groups needs 4, etc..” We’re on the lookout for potential leaders in multiple areas, not just our own. Our team operates on the win/win principle.

3. Listen for gifts and passions.

As you recruit leaders, listen for their gifts and passions. Finding the best fit for a leader is more important than fitting them somewhere on my team simply because we have a need. If I sit with a leader and recruit them for college, instead of preschool, it’s not that college “wins” and preschool “loses.” College “wins” and our organization “wins” because when college ministry is better, we’re all better.

 4. Intentionally invest in another team, expecting nothing in return.

Once you’ve listened to the needs present in other teams, you are aware of the holes that they have. Don’t just sit on that information…send some leaders and resources their way! Be generous. If you’re thinking “win/win,” then you’ll trust that if another team takes a step forward, that doesn’t force you to take a step backwards. It helps the whole organization progress.

5. Congratulate another team member on his or her accomplishment.

Instead of festering over how she’s succeeding, genuinely congratulate her. Be excited for the steps forward she and her team are taking. When you create an environment of mutual encouragement, you’re less likely to look for areas to undercut other team members.

When everybody on the team understands the win/win concept, you have a better chance of experiencing forward momentum. Without it, expect backbiting and disunity to dominate.

What kind of team are you on right now?