Is your boss a winner? Maybe he played football, or she was a tennis star. Leaders like to compete and excel. It often starts in school with sports or other competitions.

People who have the competitive bug usually put themselves in positions to get promoted and they continue winning awards and recognition throughout life and their careers.

The problem is that competitive people don’t know when to temper their competitive drives. It shows up in personal relationships and conversations like this:

  • Let me tell you what’s wrong with your opinion…
  • Let me explain what’s missing in your idea…
  • That would be better if you added this…
  • You’re right on one part, but here’s the rest of the story…
  • I used to think that but here’s why I’ve moved on…
  • If that were true, then it’s as if…(reference to a metaphor or analogy showing an outrageous connection)

Competitive people get into arguments and want to win. It’s not about discovering and discussing truth; it’s about how they can look good, look smart, and get you to see their wisdom and wit.

Many bosses are competitive winners. They want to be the best boss. It’s their focus on results and getting thing done that makes them prime candidates for promotion to more management responsibilities. Until… they start showing up as dysfunctional leaders as reported in 360 degree feedback from their own people.

Managing people isn’t about the manager winning. It’s about the manager’s people winning. A smart boss focuses on how he/she can bring out the best in their people so that everyone wins.

That’s why managers and smart bosses see themselves not so much as winners but as the coach for their winning team. That means that the boss who wants to win has to shift their mindset from “how can I win” to “how can I get my people to give their best?”

Clearly, using conversations to show how smart you are will get you nowhere. In fact, it crushes trust and engagement. People don’t want to work for a jerk. Think about that in your next conversation with staff.