Growing up, I was pretty good at chess.
Although I much preferred outdoor sports like soccer and cricket, the truth is I was at best average. But for some reason playing chess came naturally to me. By the age of eleven I’d won a handful of regional tournaments.
Learning chess was fun. But after a while, it started to become stressful – even a hassle. You see, there was another person who also went to my school that became my biggest competitor. He was in the year below.
The problem was he also lived in the same house as me and slept about three foot away from me each night.
Yep, that’s right. The guy who was starting to beat me regularly happened to be my little brother.
Over twenty years later I can finally admit (begrudgingly) that my brother was much better than me at chess. But strangely what I found uncomfortable wasn’t the competition. It was more the continuous comparisons by everyone – our friends, our teachers, even our family – it felt like a continually pressurized situation where one of us had to be the winner and the other the loser. Even my bro – whilst winning – disliked it.
We’ve all been there. Whether it’s with other members of our family, at school or in the workplace we’ve all been compared with others. And even been guilty of comparing others. Sometimes without even knowing it.
But great leaders are different. They realise that unnecessary comparisons can be one of the fastest ways to lose the faith of their followers.
Here are some reasons why great leaders don’t compare others.
It prevents unnecessary rivalry
As I’ve mentioned in past posts, healthy competition can be a good thing.
However like everything, there is a balance and often unknowingly it is easy to step over the line. Sometimes even unnecessarily make comparisons for no constructive reason at all. It’s often because as highly cognitive creatures our brains love order and so we compare things. Holidays. Restaurants. Movies. And most of all…people.
The problem is as social creatures we all crave social acceptance. Which in today’s culture means winning. To fulfil this craving it can be tempting to win at all costs and resent those who we are up against.
Great leaders understand that comparing heavily can lead to unhealthy rivalry – even resentment. They learn to focus on individuals separately and in line with each persons goals and aspirations. They understand there is always more than enough to go around. By doing so they also encourage co-operation and celebration of other people’s success – creating a culture that everybody thrives in.
Great leaders lower the chances of resentment.
It focuses more on performance than position
By eliminating unnecessary comparisons, the focus shifts from winning at all costs to the thing that really matters.
Great leaders understand that just like the best athletes race against the clock and improve their personal times, the same is true in all other aspects of life. Getting stressed out with continual comparisons is just a downright waste of energy. It takes our focus off the game and onto the opponent. Onto the things we can’t control and off the things we can control.
Rather than worry about others, it’s better to be the best you can.
And then try and improve.
Great leaders value results and performance over bragging rights.
It builds confidence
Comparisons are often what prevent us making the changes we really want.
I’d like to get an internship over going to university but does that mean my sister will considered more clever? I do want to start that new business but don’t want to sell the Mercedes and for the neighbours to look down on me? If I take the exciting job in China will David be considered a better fit for the CEO job in the future?
By being continuously compared with others often the desire to conform overrides the desire to pursue our real dreams in life.
Comparing destroys confidence.
Great leaders understand that by freeing others from comparisons they become free to pursue whatever they really want out of life. They gain perspective. They take initiative. They grow in confidence.
Great leaders inject confidence.
Comparing is an ingrained human habit.
But when it comes to people, it can be more of a hindrance than a benefit.
Hiring managers can gain much from those people who know how to work with multiple people without the need to continually compare unless it’s really healthy to do so.
Do you get compared with anyone?
If you are a hiring manager and want to speak to me regarding your hiring requirements, please reach out here