Strengths Coaching Blog

Monday, May 8, 2017

Mastery Monday: Understanding Competition

By Albert L. Winseman, D.Min


Joe Namath once said, “When you win, nothing hurts.” Those high in Competition understand the truth of that statement, because to them there is nothing like winning. Competition measures performance: “What are the numbers I have to beat? What is the time I need to win? Who is ahead me – of us? Who is our closest competitor in our market? Are we more productive this month than last month? What are our year over year numbers – and who do we need to beat?” For those with Competition in their Top Five, measuring and competing drive their performance. Competition runs faster when there is someone in the next lane – ideally someone as good as or better than me. Those high in Competition choose their “games” wisely; if they can’t see a path to winning, then what is the point of competing? Competition needs metrics, because metrics spur comparison. “If you can compare, you can compete, and if you can compete, you can win.”

In this installment of Compare and Contrast, I examine the similarities and differences between Competition and Achiever, Command, and Activator.


Competition and Achiever

Competition and Achiever can look a lot alike, because both themes can appear to be particularly productive. When they show up together in a person’s Top Five, they can complement each other nicely.  Competition does things that enable winning; Achiever completes tasks that need to be finished. Those high in Competition tend to feel incomplete unless they win; those high in Achiever tend to feel incomplete if there are tasks left undone at the end of the day. Achiever keeps busy; Competition keeps its eye on the prize. Competition wants to be the best; Achiever wants to get something done. Those high in Achiever want to cross the finish line, and those high in Competition want to cross the finish line in first place.

Competition and Command

Like Achiever, the outcomes of Competition and Command can be very similar in that there is a focus for both on accomplishing a goal and perhaps winning. Competition needs to compare; Command needs a challenge. Competition needs someone to compete against; Command needs a team to lead. For those with strong Command talents, there really doesn’t need to be anyone else trying to get to the mountain top first; in fact the idea that nobody has done it before is particularly enticing and motivating to them. Those with strong Competition talents need the push of someone competing with them to bring out their best. Both Competition and Command can challenge the performance of others; for Command it is when another’s performance is detrimental to the team’s achievement, and for Competition it is when another’s performance is causing us to lose ground to a competitor.

Competition and Activator

There is a certain energy and movement to both Competition and Activator that may seem to suggest a lot of similarity, but on examination they are two very different themes. Activator is by nature impatient, while Competition can be very patient if that is what it takes to win. Those high in Activator don’t necessarily like practice or the repetitive nature of practice – but can grudgingly accept it as the price to pay for getting better. Competition, on the other hand, tends to welcome practice and repetition as an integral part of preparing to compete. Practice makes perfect – and perfection wins.
Activators want to get things started and often get bored half way through the project. Those high in Competition will see it through – particularly if they are winning or are close to victory. Those high in Competition often will spend time on developing a winning strategy, while those high in Activator often will jump in, get started and make it up as they go along.


Be sure to catch up on Season One and Season Two of Theme Thursday-Communication to learn more!


Albert L. Winseman, D.Min., is a Senior Learning and Development Consultant at Gallup. Al brings deep expertise in employee and customer engagement, executive leadership and organizational dynamics to his consulting work with Gallup’s clients. He consults with senior leaders, executives and front-line managers to improve employee and customer engagement and to implement strategic initiatives that drive business growth.

Al's top 5 strengths are: Ideation | Futuristic | Maximizer | Strategic | Command

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