People with the Competition® strength love a good yardstick. Competition provides a measuring stick for monitoring one’s growth, and they thrive when they compete. They are forever on the lookout for someone to compete with—other people and hero’s who can help them be their best.
Chip Conley is a good example. At the ripe old age of 26, Conley transformed the hotel industry with his Joie de Vivre collection of 40 award-winning hotels and annual revenue of $250 million. Then the bottom fell out of the travel industry after the dot-com bust, taking Joie de Vivre with it.
How could he fight the negative economic climate his company was facing? He fought with his Competition talent. In a way, Conley wasn’t competing with other hotel chains, but with a much bigger foe—a U.S. economy in tatters. He was drawn to a copy of Abraham Maslow’s Toward a Psychology of Being. Maslow was the first to coin the term “positive psychology,” and Conley applied this positive psychology to his company and subsequently wrote his own book called PEAK: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow.
Peak’s central premise is that when companies help customers, employees, and investors reach that “peak” state, they create evangelizing customers, loyal employees, and passionate, long-term investors. This, in turn, creates more profitable and sustainable companies.
In 2013 Conley accepted an invitation from Airbnb, the home-sharing service, to help transform the start-up into the world’s largest hospitality brand. As Head of Global Hospitality & Strategy, Conley taught his methods to Airbnb hosts in nearly 200 countries and created Airbnb Open, which brings thousands together in a global festival of belonging.
When I interviewed Chip he shared how “as a CEO in the hotel business, his Competition was about gaining market share, beating the budget, and having higher customer satisfaction than the competitors. As an author it shows up as making the New York Times Best Seller list and having great book sales. As a speaker it’s knowing I hit the ball out of the park with an audience and being rated as the best speaker.”
Those with Competition strength are comfortable going head-to-head, but there’s another approach. Find a mentor and follow their lead—someone who has “been there, done that” and can challenge Competitors to accomplish bigger and better objectives.
Competitors naturally tend to gravitate towards sports. Competition is my #5 strength. I grew up playing football, tennis, and golf, and I can testify to how energized I feel by a battle. Of course, Competition is not limited to sports. Toastmasters, for example, have competitive speaking events. Every year, individuals go head-to-head in the world championship of public speaking. Others find opportunities for competition in the workplace. Some time ago, I was president of our local chapter of Business Network International. BNI has three teams competing against each other for the most business referrals, new visitors, and the best meeting attendance. The Competitors on these teams absolutely love the challenge.
Let me clarify— Refined Competitors are not competitively inclined, so they can show up other people or have bragging rights. They seek competition because they believe it facilitates excellence in themselves and others.
If you have Competitors on your team, take advantage of their insights on strategies. Use these strategies to get ahead in your current venture. If you are trying to win over a new market, for instance, people with the Competition strength will look at what others are doing in the market and how it can be applied to their organization.
When you celebrate wins, you should focus on what caused the win, and how you did it. When I coach Competitors, I love to ask them to tell me about their successes. Then we focus on what caused the individual to be a winner in that particular situation; what strengths, strategies, and skills led them to victory.
Competitors enjoy measuring their achievements. They like trophies, certificates, medals—basically, any positive form of recognition. They want to hear, “You win. You succeed.” Without positive feedback, a win is much less satisfying.
Seth Godin’s book, The Dip, is a great read for individuals with the Competition strength. Godin maintains that it’s important to quit—sometimes—and avoid wasting time and energy on a weakness. Most Competitors don’t have a problem quitting with an area that they likely will lose; but it’s a wisdom skill for all of us to know when to quit and when not to quit.
Do you have the CliftonStrengths theme of Competition, or know someone who does? How can you fight with your Competition strength to build the business of your dreams? Let us know your plan in the comments below. Want to talk with me about this or other strengths questions you have? Please schedule you free Ask Brent Anything call, and let’s talk strengths.