Leadership is a competition

Competition is healthy for most. Rivalry and war often bring forth innovation, ideas and lessons-learned through unmitigated success and abstract failure. American business leaders since the turn of the century have embraced competition as a necessity for progress and profits. 

Some of these leaders, like McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc, have likened business acumen to a battlefield experience. 

According to Kroc, “If I saw a competitor drowning, I’d put a live fire hose in his mouth.” 

The threat of death via a live fire hose aside, Mr. Kroc’s remarks are symbolic of the modern-day business and personal landscape facing multiple generations of Americans. 

A recent issue of The New York Times Magazine asked the question “do millennials stand a chance in the real world?” When compared to other current workforce occupants–baby boomers and generation X–millennials are viewed as audacious, lacking politeness and untrusting of those in charge. As expected, response to the article stimulated much discussion and  commentary. Over a third of the article readers stated that millennials feel entitled and have a victim mentality. Another third stated that millennials do have it hard when compared to other generations and less than a third stated that no generation has had it easy. Interestingly enough, one-half of those who responded to the article were themselves members of the millennial generation. 

The take-away? A dissection of millennial commentary is a great look into the true nature and future of dynamic and time-tested leadership. If taken for face value, millennials value competition, have an air of entitlement and are not afraid to demand things. In addition, commentary lends that millennials are not afraid to lead but are viewed as trusting few.  

True application of leadership requires confidence, a clear vision and expectation of performance standards, as well as the ability to hire, motivate and mentor people who are not just good enough for a particular job, but will raise the collective excellence and output of the entire organization. With very few exceptions, trust is earned, and the competitive nature of a technologically driven 21st century business environment demands an equally relevant appreciation for balanced, ego-driven confidence–a demand for competition. 

Competition is universally applicable. Competition brings people together for a common cause and shapes individual personalities. Leaders build, charge and massage competition to get the best possible contributions from their team. Competition can indeed bring out the best and worst in people without regard for age, gender, nationality or ethnicity. And for this, the world is indeed a better place.


About jeffclapperproject

I am a proud veteran and I come from a family of proud veterans. I’ve served with some of the best people on this planet and have been fortunate enough to lead a few of them in peacetime and war. Much like a very select few, I’ve truly seen the absolute best and worst of humanity. I am a communicator, a broadcast journalist, videographer and public relations professional by trade, a father, husband and proud American by choice. I’ve done okay by my professions over the last 20 years, won a few awards and made some great products, but my real passion is leading, mentoring and educating people. It’s an awesome responsibility and challenge to be charged with building successful teams, molding talent and motivating people to become part of something greater than them. But I love it. I truly enjoy it--the good, the bad, and a chance to see someone you’ve led and mentored succeed. I was taught very early on in my military career to take care of your people, equip them to flourish, mentor and train them to ultimately replace you. I was also taught by a series of awesome mentors that there is a distinct difference between a manager and a leader. Both are necessary, but only one develops a person for the future. I’ve learned a thing or two over the past two decades, and having built, led, trained and mentored teams of two to 650 people, I feel qualified enough to offer advice, commentary and counsel on leadership, team building and the ability to grow people as individuals and professionals. I hope you will benefit from and enjoy what I have to share. Cheers, Jeff Clapper
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