Playing Not To Lose Is Playing To Lose

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Leaders would rather play to win, but few truly have permission.

by Steve Wakeen


Playing not to lose is what the folks at the Leadership Circle Profile call the Reactive Structure of Mind. The Reactive Structure of Mind suggests that we protect, comply and control in the name of keeping the status quo. It is impossible to play to win when the Reactive is dominant. And it is dominant. About 75% of us operate from this vantage point. CEOs too. Because we play it safe, nothing actually happens. Possibility is shut down. As the President of Hartford Healthcare, Jeff Flax recently said, “If you don’t change anything, don’t expect anything to change.”  Which is worse: nothing happening, or smart risk–taking? Why do we play not to lose? From the view of our paychecks, perhaps it is all about fear.  Yet CEOs need more risk–takers. Is the culture truly set up for risk-taking? Or is it just words full of political dynamite and unpredictability? If it is just words, you have an entire leadership team (and company) playing it safe. Hardly a competitive advantage. But imagine if the team really is a competitive advantage. What does that look like? A culture of risk–taking is only likely if the CEO and leadership team actually take visible, strategic risks. Maybe we should call it ‘Possibility–making.’ If you are interested in learning about The Leadership Circle Profile 360–degree assessment and how it helps create competitive advantage, Playbook is certified in it. Give us a call or book an appointment. 

Steve Wakeen