Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Is there really just one winner?

“March Madness” is the name given to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, as 68 of the finest college basketball teams compete in a single elimination tournament to determine the National Champion. A lot of people who are sports fans but don’t follow college basketball do follow this tournament because every year there are fantastic finishes, Cinderella teams, and monumental upsets.

And, at the end, only one team remains standing - THE WINNER!

My team didn’t win the championship this year. They were eliminated in what is referred to as the “Sweet 16”, one of the final 16 teams in the tournament. It was a close game, but when their final shot didn’t fall, they were done and sent home. Needless to say, they were unhappy, even despondent over the loss. They had visions of a National Championship as did their fans. I, too, was upset that they didn’t win, but I knew I’d get over it. There are certainly bigger tragedies in life than not having your favorite team win it all.

But, I was surprised when I read some of the local newspaper accounts of the game, the team, and the season. Or more correctly, I was surprised by the fan reaction to the loss. After all, this team won more than 30 games this season, losing only 3. By nearly anyone’s description, they had a great season. Yet, after they were eliminated from the tournament, I read comments from the fans that said they were losers and that they were over-rated; comments that generally disparaged a fine team and a fine season. I found reading the comments to be disheartening, discouraging, and small-minded. Instead of celebrating a great season, fans were upset that their team was not that last team standing.


I’ve always wondered about the way some people perceive winning and losing. They view it as a simple 1/0 game. They believe that either you are THE WINNER, or you are a LOSER. There is no middle ground in their minds.

And I’m not just talking about the NCAA tournament here, or sports in general for that matter. I’m talking about a view of life and business that has fostered this simplistic view of winner and losers.

Too often, we fail to value contributions from our peers and employees because they weren’t “the best”. We hold contests to compete for who can sell the most product, install the most widgets, or respond to the most customer complaints. We compete to be number 1 without any thought to what that means to our products, our employees, or our customers.

Is there really only one winner in life or in business?

Let me be clear here. I’m not advocating the silliness that says if you participate, you are a winner. I don’t think we all deserve trophies and bouquets of flowers, just for showing up. But I do think that there is more than one winner in many competitions and that understanding the difference, the real difference, between winners and losers is a big part of your responsibility as a leader.

I’ll be writing more about winners and losers next week. Identifying and cultivating winners in your organization is part of your ongoing success.

At ECI Learning Systems LLC, we are dedicated to helping companies get the greatest return from their most valuable asset: their employees. We work with you to align 3 key organizational factors:
• Your Company Culture
• The Leadership Styles of your key managers
• The Expectations of your Employees

When these 3 factors are aligned, you create an energy in your company that improves productivity, reduces absenteeism, increases creativity, and positively impacts your bottom line. Contact ECI Learning Systems LLC today to get your free Workplace Evaluation.

Until next time.....

Dave Meyer
ECI Learning Systems, LLC

1 comment:

  1. Dave,

    Thanks for a dose of perspective. is there only one winner? In today's vernacular what about the Win/Win. This implies two winners. In my world the buyer and the seller win. What about the triple win? The buyer and seller win as does the end user of the services that the buyer now delivers or the community in terms of the social contract like the sustainable movement.

    Even when we lose, we sometimes win from the lesson we learn.

    Thanks for the provocative post