Why are we afraid of female competition?

We recently had a talk with Connie Pheiff, founder of Talent Concierge about how when growing up, she was picked on by other girls at school. When this occurred her grandmother would always say, “She is jealous.” But not being a standout student, athlete, or a popular girl she was confused – what could they possibly be jealous of and why was the rivalry so fierce?

Unfortunately for many women, the ruthless competition lasts well into adulthood. Some note that male employees were usually the first to congratulate a female co-worker on a promotion, giving them the impression that other women were upset for themselves not receiving the advancement rather than happy for another. 

Healthy Competition

The president and Chief Creative Officer of the Hollywood Reporter, Janice Min, announced a recent decision to abolish The Annual Women’s List from the magazine’s entertainment section. She explained that she is tired of pitting women against each other and putting them into a “female cage match.”She went on to say,“…something as simple as a ranking competition between women keeps the sense of competition alive. In an industry where women are fighting for gender equality adds to the creation of this competitive environment among women.”

As well-intentioned as this statement is, Connie disagrees, instead noting that “healthy competition among people in business is very positive”. Athletes as an example push themselves to up their game, to go faster, increase their endurance, and excel higher than their competition. They find inspiration from their peers. 

Competition as an Executive’s Asset

Competition is what drives us; it is the key to being heard in the company. It makes us recognize our weaknesses, helping us to develop our skill set. This is especially true for women just starting out in a position of leadership, or for women in C-Suite positions (CEO, COO, CFO, etc). Without competition, some of the most powerful women would not be as successful as they are today. You’ve probably heard people saying, “it’s not about the competition, it’s not about winning, losing, or being the best; it’s about having fun, being happy, or doing something you love.” Unfortunately, that is not the reality of the situation. 

The fact is, there will always be a winner, and there will always be someone who has failed. Yes, it would be great to be able to focus on what we love, and not have to worry about all of the hustle and bustle that comes along with competition, but the truth is that you wouldn’t be able to do what you love until you give it a try. Nobody wants to lose something they have worked so hard for. Don’t get me wrong, an aggressive, punishing type of attitude is not the answer. Embracing your talents, and appreciating the lessons you learn along the way is the fastest and long term key to success. If you’re struggling to reach your goals, you may be reluctant to give in to the competition. If you plan on raising our own bar, it’s time for a change. You will never succeed to your highest potential if you do not try to offer your clients better service than the company across the street. 

Competition Reveals Weakness and Builds Character

This isn’t about embracing your competition, it’s about adding value to yourself and being consistently making a creative effort to make a  better product or service for your client. The smartest women and most successful businesses lean on learning and growing. Your competition can teach you things about how to implement change, understand your business’ industry. Competition can reveal your weak points, and bring an answer on how to improve them. Women who are just starting out in a position of leadership can greatly benefit from a little healthy competition, helping them to learn the ins and outs of their careers and developing personal insight to flourish. When you are in a position of high authority, there is always someone looking to take over that top executive spot. Study the way your opponents work and strategize to be more creative than them and surpass their performance. This competition is one of creativity and innovation with collaborative victory as an end goal. 

Working Together

Women who are in Executive C-Suite positions can benefit from embracing their competitors as well.  Competition and sustainability go hand in hand. Making a change to embrace your female counterparts and advance as a woman in leadership can greatly improve your passion and drive. Embrace your female rivals. Help successful women succeed. 

As female executives, embracing our competition will free us to focus on what matters most in our personal and professional lives.