The key to being the ultimate survivor in business in an extremely competitive landscape is to have a strategic plan. These five components will help you thrive.
Before I stopped watching television, I used to watch Survivor. One of my favourite scenes was an episode where Rupert stole shoes and other items from the other tribe, and then they used the pirated loot to trade for more useful – and untraceable – items for their tribe.
In Survivor, you face a dilemma. You need to be strong enough and liked enough to win the final vote. At the same time, if you are too capable, you paint a target on yourself. If people perceive you as too weak, you are voted off during tribal competitions. Alliances are important early the game, yet most of the players betray their alliances, and it comes back to haunt them.
The last vote is FOR the winner and not for who gets voted out of the game. So you need to find the perfect balance of flying under the radar yet remaining well enough liked and respected to win the final vote.
The one thing that translates to the real world is that survival at any cost usually costs you the game at the very end.
5 Ways to Win – Business Survival
Games are artificial and don’t always translate directly to business and life. Human psychology and behaviour does.
#1 – It Is How You Play the Game
In Survivor many players made it to the end by telling big lies, switching alliances, and stabbing others in the back. In most cases, they didn’t win the final vote.
You find out a lot about people when times are tough, not when everything is going well. I’ve seen business partners turn on each other. I’ve seen leaders turn into dictators. Most of all you see people passing the blame.
Games, business, and life don’t always work as planned. If you play the game with integrity – at least you will lose with dignity and friendships intact. You can rebound if you have your reputation.
#2 – Build Strong Personal Skills
Some of the most exciting seasons occurred when a player makes it to the end by winning the personal challenges time after time. The remaining players can’t vote you out if you have immunity. Not all the competitions are purely physical, so this means having a sharp mind as well – all while getting insufficient food and sleep.
You’ve been in sales for 20 years. How much time do you spend learning? This education should be a mix of industry and sales skills as a minimum. Expanding knowledge outside of your industry is seldom a waste either. Customers are looking for consultative and challenger sales people.
The same goes for every position in the organization.
You claim on your website that you are the best. Prove it by continuously training and developing those skills.
#3 – Keep a Strong Team
In most seasons, the game of Survivor starts out with two competing teams. If your team loses, you go to tribal council and vote a member out – plus you don’t win the reward. Losing challenges also has its own momentum. That dynamic can change if the team stays cohesive.
Teams that tried to anticipate a merge by voting out strong players too soon ended up losing future challenges. They went into the merge too weak and got picked off one by one.
When times are tough in business, playing politics and jockeying for position doesn’t usually end well. Keeping the team strong is the only hope you have of changing the momentum. You can address individual skills, but you need to work on being more competitive as a team to survive when things are going your way.
#4 – Form Alliances
In Survivor, strong alliances often carry a small group to the end. Breaking those agreements too early cost you votes in the final tribal council.
In business, your alliances matter. These always include your relationships with your employees, vendors, and customers.
Partnerships with competitors or companies offering complementary services can be just the thing to drive your survival and growth in a tight market. The secrets to making them work are:
- Be clear on the rules of engagement
- Be prepared to give to the alliance
- Make sure they are win-win long-term
- Know how you will measure the value of the relationship
- Meet on a regular basis to iron out kinks and ensure both parties are seeing value.
It might cost you some business over the short-term, but the right partnerships will allow you to focus on where you add the most value. You should be stronger working together.
Be clear up front on how the alliance can dissolve if it isn’t working out. It should not be a surprise when if it happens.
#5 – Marketing Strategy Matters
In the final tribal council, the feelings people have about you determine whether or not you will get their vote. It seldom comes down to pure logic. People remember everything about how they were treated. They remember the time you took more than your share of the scarce food. They remember the time you let them down in a backroom deal.
Your brand is what others say about your company. You get to influence it, but you can’t control what others think or say.
Marketing is your first chance to affect what people think of your company via your communicated messaging and brand elements. If they are already clients, it is also your chance to remind them about all the value you delivered and your other helpful solutions.
Most importantly, you can make them feel they are part of the tribe. A tribe they chose and don’t want to leave. Don’t betray that trust. You don’t want to be in the game only to lose because you got greedy or careless.
In the game of Survivor Alberta, there can be more than one winner. Play well.
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