Winning and Losing – IndustryCast Webinar
In this week’s IndustryCast webinar, Russ breaks down winning – what it means, how to shift to a winning mindset, and how to lead your team to success.
This IndustryCast session is based on the original blog post below.
Winning is outperforming the competition or overcoming your desire to quit. Every person wants to quit at some point. Humans are predisposed to quitting thanks to homeostasis because the exertion or stress we incur when competing takes us out of our equilibrium (homeostasis). The cells of the human body are always focused on balance. Stressors take us out of balance. The first step to winning is overcoming a physiological predisposition to pursue the path of least resistance.
Some people have no trouble overcoming physiological resistance, while others will only act out of desperation. The number one key to winning is your mindset. Winning is a state of mind and an expectation. You won’t win every time, but you can expect to win every time. Often this is referred to as a winning mindset.
Several years ago, we had an opportunity to compete for a major automation project. The customer was new to automation and did not know what they wanted or needed. These customers are akin to riding a bull because they are always shifting and changing direction. The customer was located in the same industrial park as our major competitor, and our facility was over five hours away. To add insult to injury, we were late to the game. Immediately upon understanding the obstacles, I knew we had our work cut out for us. When my team heard all of the challenges that we would have to overcome, they did not want to waste their time.
- New customer
- Customers 1st major automation project
- Competition in the same industrial park
- Late to the quoting party
Resistance in an individual is difficult to overcome, while resistance in an organization is like trying to move mountains. How do you overcome resistance?
Tell them we are going to win.
The first step in overcoming resistance is belief. You must believe winning is possible, not just speaking the words, but genuinely believing you can win. That is a winning mindset. It is a deep belief in your ability to overcome the obstacles and achieve your desired outcome.
My team was hesitant and skeptical despite my winning mindset and cheerleading. Overcoming our organizational homeostasis would require more than words and confidence. So I made a winning plan and took them through a step-by-step strategy for success. It included details that would require extra effort for the team. We were going to have to go beyond our standard norms. Each role was assigned, and a timeline was provided. During a call to review the details, I repeated the phrase, “guys, we are going win!” many times.
Show them how we are going to win.
The problem of a common goal or mission cannot be overstated. Winning is rarely an accident, and consistently winning is never an accident. To win requires commitment, skill, planning, and execution. Step two is about applying your skills to a well-crafted plan. What is a well-crafted plan (WCP)?
- The WCP leverages your strengths. Too often, we obsess over our weaknesses and what we don’t have. This is exactly what losers do. They focus on overcoming their weaknesses versus leveraging their strengths. Don’t be a loser. Focus on your strengths and use them wisely.
- In the WCP, each role is clearly defined, and expectations are communicated. It is essential to understand the needs of the role and not get distracted by the needs of the player. If the role requires cleaning the toilet, the person that fills the role will need to clean the toilet. Define the role upfront and clearly articulate the expectations of the person filling the role. Not doing so results in a toilet that never gets cleaned because the player in that role doesn’t like cleaning toilets. The mission is to win, and sometimes winning is a dirty job.
- The WCP includes the vision of victory. What does winning look like? Paint the picture for the team. Alignment is easier when the vision is clear. What will it feel like to win? What will it mean for the organization? How will it benefit the individual?
- The WCP has a timeline, action plan, open issues list, and regular communication. One of the most common reasons plans fail is because regular communication does not take place. Each week the team should be gathered together for a status update. If you are a team leader, you must regularly check in with your team members. How are they doing? Are they stuck? How can you help?
Step two is about building the team’s confidence with a well-crafted plan and sharing the plan with confidence. Welcoming feedback but resisting doubt. Doubt and pessimism are deal-breakers and dream crushers. We all experience doubt and discouragement, but winners immediately shift the conversation back to the next action required. Action can help end doubt and bring the focus back to winning.
Lead them to victory.
One of my favorite sayings is “the leader sets the pace.” I had to lead the team by doing the work. I created process flow charts and worked on the initial concept. I intended to light a fire under the team. My tireless effort and constant action began to inspire the team, and soon they were just as motivated to win as I was. This was our challenge, and the odds were stacked against us. We were the underdog against a competitor that was ten times larger than us. When you are a part of a small organization you have far more advantages than you will lead yourself to believe.
- Small is nimble—Pivot to a concept that is new versus the large bureaucracy incapable of a new idea. Big often means you get what you get. Small should mean you get what you want (as long as you are capable).
- Small is responsive—No need to run it up the flagpole. Does that make sense? Can we do it? Yes, and yes.
- Small is customer-obsessed—Small companies are radical about satisfying the needs of their customers. Big companies become self-righteous and self-centered. Being customer-obsessed is an incredible advantage.
- Small is creative—Combining nimble, responsive, and customer-obsessed leads to innovative solutions to common challenges.
Winning is a mindset. Our mindset in all situations will determine our success. It is possible to lose and win, but only if we learn from the loss. Losers make excuses for their losses. Winners use the lessons learned from the loss to fuel their next win. They won’t tolerate a defeat without a lesson. They set the pace for the team.
Michael Jordan was hard on his teammates. He knew what it took to win and led by example. He was always pushing himself and his team. Many take issue with his style, but none deny his success. He was a winner with a winning mindset, and he made everyone around him better by holding them to a higher standard.
We won the project. It was a $1.2 million win. Not a single person believed we were going to win in the beginning. We succeeded because we changed our attitude, created and executed a plan, and led with accountability and a willingness to do whatever it took.
Are you a winner?