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How to compete at work

Hello TPM community,

since listening to "Stealing the corner office" I understand better that my peers are my competitors. However, they are also my collaborators. So I'm exploring here how to go about competing at work in an "Eagle way".

These are the following principles I thought about:

  1. Win-win: this is the most important basic principle. To approach competition at work in a win-win approach in mind. To achieve win-win, the only possible way is that both parties go "win". So when going "win-win", that's the only thing we can control. Then it's up to the other party to reciprocate or not, which leads me to number 2.
  2. Tit-for-tat with forgiveness: this is the strategy that prevents people from taking advantage of us if they go "lose-win". That is if they defect. So in the first encounter we go "win-win" and after that we reciprocate what the other person did (defect or cooperate). After a few rounds of social exchanges, we can go back to "win-win" (forgiving) to see if the person is willing to cooperate this time.
  3. Compete covertly: competition must be covert. As otherwise there is the risk of being seen as a non-cooperator in the team. That is taking value from an individual and therefore from the group.
  4. Compete in an eagle fashion: that is through one's own merit and self-promotion and not through social climbing. There is an exception, see number 5.
  5. Save the group from a member's mistake: I think this is the only allowed covert social climbing attitude. If a member makes a mistake, solve it and since it usually impacts the whole group, either self-promote the solution or it will be auto-promoted. Indeed, mistakes from a member that require "saving" are usually mistakes that affect the whole group. However, this must be done in a face-saving manner as never naming the person or not even naming a mistake. One can adopt the casual: "I just did this and now it's ok" format. Everybody will know the importance of repairing the mistake. It does not have to be said.
  6. Cooperate in 1-on-1: you don't want your competitors to see you as a competitor but rather as a collaborator. That is highly machiavellian. So each time you can help your colleague or give value do it. This will build trust and through reciprocation they might give you some of their competitive advantage (knowledge, skills, connections).
  7. Keep your competitive advantage from your competitor: that is so important. If you give away what gives you an edge towards your competitors, then you give them a free advantage in the competition. However, if one want to obtain the competitive advantage from our competitor, we must give them value in some way. So we can give them knowledge that is easily findable or that looks valuable but is not. The important part is to keep the most valuable knowledge to ourselves and keep them as dependant as possible. I know it sounds bad. However, empowering one's competitor is not a good idea. Off course they're team members so we'll teach them if needed what they need to know to function well in the team.
  8. Cooperate publicly: publically, one must always be seen as a collaborator/teamplayer. So supporting, giving credit and agreeing publicly with one's competitor actually gives more status than criticizing or pointing mistakes. Of course if the person is doing mistakes, pointing it out with power-protection in mind. The more we attack the more they attack.
  9. Don't let other social climb on you: I think this is as important as going for win-win. This is how we lose a lot of status and power. People with less skills, knowledge, benevolence, intelligence, character than you can put themselves in a superior position with a few words. We must not let them. As they get for cheap what we worked hard for. And it's not fair for the group as letting a taker social climb on you if you're going for eagle's behaviour is letting the team down. If we're aiming to be forces for good, it's worth fighting for. Choosing our battles of course.
  10. Don't social climb on other people: this is how we make silent enemies. Make friends not enemies. The exception is to regain status when someone has been social climbing on us. However, this must still be the exception as we risk a Turkey spiral.

I'm happy to read any comments or additional points on this topic.

If the administrators feel like this belong more in the "work" section of the forum or that the title could be improved, I'm totally ok. I also think that if we get contribution on this that improves it enough to a higher quality, it could also become a short blog post if curated enough. I see there are overlaps for instance.

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