Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Difference Between Winners & Losers

The following story illustrates a difference between winners and losers in the modern global economy.

A new VP who was just promoted was settling into his new corner office when he noticed that his trash can was full. When he arrived the next day, the trash remained. After a week, with the trash can still full, he decided to seek out the building manager. The building manager said that he would look into it, and came by later to tell him what had happened. A janitor had stopped by his office each night, found the door to locked, and gone on his way. The locks had been changed when the VP got his new office. The building manager said that the problem would be rectified immediately.

The VP seized upon this as a leadership opportunity. He told this story to his team, and asked them what the janitor could have done differently. Answers ranged from leaving a note to escalating the locked door to the building manager. Exactly! The janitor did have options but chose to do nothing. The VP put a challenge to his team. It may be alright for a janitor to do only what is easy. He may work very hard, but he will likely remain a janitor. The VP told his team that they have a choice. This choice will separate the winners from the losers. They can choose to do the minimum or they can find ways to succeed even when obstacles get in their way.

This story is not meant to disparage the janitorial profession. There are many great janitors who take pride in their work. There is dignity in all work when it is done well.

If you do a web search on "work hard and play by the rules", you will find quotes from President Obama, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Clinton, David Brooks and others. These leaders argue that prosperity should result from hard work and fair play, but this argument is incomplete. Working hard and playing by the rules is absolutely necessary, but no longer sufficient for personal or collective prosperity. In our modern global marketplace, we compete with smart, highly motivated, hardworking people all over the world. In order to win, we must work hard, play by the rules, take initiative, and continuously learn and improve. I do not know if this is fair or unfair, but we need to shift our thinking and develop winning attitudes. The best companies understand this.

Companies made up of individuals who take on and overcome challenges win. Companies made up of complacent individuals and victims lose. A workforce that develops a can-do culture has a global competitive advantage. I constantly communicate and try to train these skills within my team. Here is what I tell my staff:
  1. Do your best.
  2. Anticipate and provide contingencies for things that might not go as planned.
  3. Find ways to succeed even when the unexpected occurs.
This mind set will make a difference and help to separate the winners from the losers in the competitive global business environment.

1 comment:

  1. Geezz. if this full trash can wasnt getting emptied, Id think Mr take charge VP would just pick it up and walk his lazy overpaid ass to the dumpster and be proactive and dump it himself! Now, thats taking charge!!!