Management hammers home a corporate catechism. If we do not stay on top of our professional game, the competition will be waiting to walk through our clients’ doors.
That is one, powerful, loaded statement, isn’t it? And we’ve all heard it once or twice, haven’t we?
Challenging words like that paint a daunting mental picture.
For starters, we become a bit nervous that we are not doing enough to remain competitive. Then we pick up on our growing self-doubt and carry it forward, a bit further. Perhaps we are not performing anywhere close to the highest level of professional competency we can achieve.
The voice inside our head gets louder. And management is never quite pleased, no matter how well we perform.
What we do is never enough to get them off our backs. At the end of each quarter, management raises the performance bar. They again ask the question: “So what have you done for us lately?”
And everyone hits the reset button. The dysfunctional battle against imagined or actual competitors starts over again. From the beginning.
Are all top competitors the same?
I have a question for you. “What do top competitors do that makes them our greatest competition?”
First, top competitors are not professionally complacent. Ever.
Our top competitors are never content that they know it all. They do not allow themselves the luxury of thinking that they are performing at the height of their professional core competencies. As a result, top competitors constantly seek out industry trends and discover client context which evolve into “what’s next?” strategically. Consequently, their clients (and they) rarely are left reacting to “what just happened?”
Second, top competitors take the time to capture their defining moments.
Professional defining moments are hard-wired into how we think and act on behalf of customers. Top competitors seem to operate in-the-moment, don’t they? Yet they implicitly understand they have acquired an arsenal of professional experience they can dig into.
“Top competitors always have their own backs. So they can have their clients’ backs.” ~ Babette Ten Haken
Often, the moments that define us professionally are subtle rather than cataclysmic. In addition, being in touch with our core behaviors and values influences how we process information and deliver remarkable and enduring business outcomes.
Third, top competitors understand their own professional voices.
Initially, top competitors leverage their own defining moments to articulate the value they bring to clients’ business tables. Also, they take responsibility for creating their own professional value proposition, instead of echoing their employer’s. Then, they customize each client relationship, driving positive customer experience, success, loyalty and retention.
Finally, top competitors disrupt themselves so they can disrupt their customers.
Top competitors always are comfortable being uncomfortable. Their relentless curiosity on behalf of clients allows no room for self-satisfaction and complacency with their performance. Instead, top performers continuously disrupt themselves with information which may not fit comfortably into how they currently see the business world. However, they incorporate these insights into their professional information arsenal. As required, they put this information into play depending on the client’s competitive context.
Are top competitors truly our greatest competition?
Chew on this one. Top competitors are, indeed, far more successful than other professionals. Then consider the competitive continuum. After all, top competitors function in business environments where there is a continuum of performers: some laggards, others mostly mediocre and then those stellar colleagues.
Or, you can ponder that, in the eyes of some of our competitors, we – ourselves – represent the competition.
Except that we do not quite see things the same way, do we? Why is that?
There’s a choice to make here. We can continue to hold ourselves back from moving forward, professionally. As a result, we continuously reinforce our negative mindset and cannot learn. Therefore, we are not open to acquiring provocative professional experiences which create innovative and enduring business outcomes for clients.
We sink into a sea of Cannot which makes us personally and professionally vulnerable. What’s the value of reinforcing those negative habits, anyway?
You see, we are our greatest top Competitors.
Unless we take solid steps in our professional development to refresh, recalibrate and renovate our core competencies, we become stuck. However, when we become responsible for our own professional development, we move one millimeter outside our professional, and often personal, comfort level. Remarkably, we learn new ways of looking at the same-old thing.
Isn’t it time to explore the value of different professional perspectives? Are you overdue to acquire skill sets allowing you to become more confident and professionally viable? Then take the next steps!
Babette Ten Haken writes, speaks, coaches and consults about collaborative value creation for customer retention. She humanizes the Voice of the Industrial Internet of Things ecosystem by facilitating cross-functional workforce collaboration. Contact Babette to discuss how she can bring her programs to life for your organization.