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Teamwork vs competition: three team-building leadership tips

Leading a team of diverse people is difficult, especially when there is so much information out there about which approaches you should be taking. For instance, how much priority should you place on creating competition versus building up teamwork? As always, a balance of the two is a highly preferable option. But how can you properly implement both?

First, let’s take a look at the benefits of the two…

Unfortunately, companies often pick one approach over the other, rarely attempting to incorporate both teamwork and competition into a single team-building strategy.

Those who opt for competition see it as an important and useful motivator. These leaders look to encourage personal growth on an individual level, offering promotions, titles and raises for the employees who perform best. However, although this can increase output, it can also result in workplace conflict and tension, leading to the development of negative, toxic workplaces.

On the other hand, though there is less of an individual urge to perform in teamwork-focused companies, teams that support and encourage one another often perform a lot stronger as a unit. Collaboration breeds creativity, new ideas, and the effective pooling of resources and expertise. In the correct environment, it can also result in a happier workforce.

Finding a good balance between challenging your team and encouraging them to work together is a great leadership strategy.

So, avoid putting too much stress on your employees by creating an overtly competitive atmosphere, but also keep in mind that a lack of competition could result in a bored, unstimulated team.

In order to create this balance, you need to know your team, and what each member brings to the table. Let’s take a look at three great team-building tips you can easily incorporate…

Three Great Team-Building Tips

1. Encourage Internal Networking

You probably think of networking as an outward-facing endeavour. But actually, if you want your team to grow and improve, then you should be encouraging them to network internally as well.

All of a business’ teams and departments should be communicating with each other on a regular basis. This will give each individual team a good sense of the overall company and different roles within the business. By creating a network in this way, employees will be more likely to know of potential resources or collaborations that could improve individual projects and goals.

The same goes for specific teams, where individual strengths are more likely to be championed if everybody knows and communicates with each other effectively.

2. Prioritise The Goal

People like to feel appreciated and fairly credited for their work. Often, this is what drives resentment and competition within a professional team. If you are leading a team, then it is important that you prioritise achieving a particular goal, rather than celebrating the individual member who had the most success.

By creating a sense that your employees need to compete to receive credit, this will only stress them out further. Moreover, you might frustrate other team members by individually praising a particular employee. If employees feel like they have to outperform one another in order to win praise and avoid sanctions, then this can lead to them feeling like they are working very hard for little reward.

3. Establish Boundaries

Make sure you always establish boundaries within a team. Everyone needs to feel uplifted and encouraged to reach milestones. But your employees also need to be held accountable for their decisions and actions.

The best way to establish boundaries is to encourage your team to create their own, by teaching them how to handle issues and behaviours that might arise within a team setting.

If a team member feels like their boundaries are being crossed, or that they are receiving feedback that isn’t constructive, this can put them off from giving a project their full commitment.

The best way to establish boundaries is to encourage your team to create their own

On the other hand, if a team member feels respected, they are more likely to approach tasks with a healthy, competitive and collaborative mindset.

A good balance…

It is very difficult to encourage a competitive atmosphere whilst also keeping your employees happy and stress-free. But collaboration, when done properly, can foster creative communication that also encourages your team to perform well.

Respect and encourage the individual talents of each member of your team, but also ensure you are focusing on the project goal rather than individual performance. A dynamic team that supports both approaches is likely to perform well, whilst also keeping morale high within the group.

Caroline Winter is a current MA student in Creative Writing, based in London. She has experience working as an editor, translator, and writer on a series of different projects and topics.

She is excited to be collaborating alongside The Industry Leaders as a content creator, and can be found on LinkedIn.


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