In the course of my work here at Morrison I’ve had the real pleasure of working with a newly promoted CFO. He and I worked closely over the course of several months as he got set in his new role.

One afternoon, while planning his upcoming budget presentation with the Board of Directors and wrestling with how he was going to convey his vision not just for the coming year, but the years to follow, there was a pause in our conversation. A thought struck me and I asked “Joe*, are they going to listen to you?” It was a hard question to ask, and a harder one to answer, or so I thought. He paused, looked at me and said “yeah, I think they’ll listen to me.” My next question was going to be “why?”, but the answer hit me before I asked it. “Of course they will…you’re not in competition with any of them” I replied.

Its not uncommon to see staff level employees, managers, and executives in competition with their peers. If some level of competition motivates you, great, I think it can be healthy. But when that competition puts you before us it can get toxic. Not only that, but as this situation bore out, by not being in competition with his peers, this CFO’s colleagues were willing to listen to him – on some pretty important topics I might add.

So how did his presentation go? Well, the Chairman said it was the “Best budget information and presentation in the history of the company”, and another member of the board said “For the first time, I understand”. Wow.

Are you having trouble getting by-in or people within your organization to champion a cause or idea you feel is important? Ask yourself if you’re in competition with your peers. If the answer is “yes”, you just might have found your answer why. Try getting behind someone else’s idea, congratulating someone’s “win” in a meeting, or just asking for their feedback on an important project of yours. Make teammates out of them rather than competitors and I bet next time you have something really important to share they’ll stop and listen to you too.

*I wish I could tell you his name, because the story is great and the lesson so applicable. But, you know, confidentiality and all that stuff. Sorry.

About the Author
Geoff Chinnock is a consultant with Morrison, working primarily in our Business & Accounting Advisory practice. To get in touch with Geoff, please find contact information for Morrison here.


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