Ask AMA: How Women Succeed in Competitive Business Environments

April 9, 2013

women in business

You asked and we answered. In the Webcast How Women Succeed in Competitive Business Environments, there were some questions we didn’t get to anwer. Here are two of them along with some tips from author and expert, Kathryn Mayer.

1.       My self-assessment shows I am between Collaborative competitor and perfectionist competitor.  What tips do you have that will help me to avoid falling into the perfectionist competitor?

This a great question because it shows me that you are self-aware.  I too struggle with this challenge.  What your scores show me is that you are competitive and may be quite good at it. The challenge for you is to examine whether you are being strategic with your competitive approach.  Here are some questions to ask yourself:  Can you delegate or collaborate? And are you enjoying the competitive process? Or are you burning yourself out, alienating yourself and others?  Is your identity too tied to what you do?

You may want to channel some of your competitiveness outside of work.  Ask people you work with how collaborative you are, to see if you need to develop that side of your approach.  I would also suggest that you consider doing something to help you take yourself a little less seriously.  What I did was take up African dancing because it looked like fun and because I had NO skill so whatsoever. It helped me lighten up.

2.        There were many questions about finding pacing partners. People asked whether they should seek out men, women, younger or older.  How do I foster more of these relationships?

The definition of a pacing partner is a colleague with whom you collaborate in a relationship that stimulates each of you to your best performance.  The key is that it needs to be someone who ENERGIZES you because he/she is equally or more talented.  What is most important is beginning with people that you trust and admire for their skills, smarts, or diverse talents.  If you remember the example that I used during the webcast of my tennis partner Carla; she was a much better networker than I was which was energizing to me and I was a better tennis player which was important to Carla.  You can foster and grow these relationships by a combination of sharing and asking with the aim of identifying win-wins.  The goal is to create a supportive, playful, and challenging environment around you so that you and your pacers continue to grow, find your edge, and perform at or beyond what you could do by yourself.  This is the essence of Collaborative Competition.

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About The Author

KATHRYN MAYER is President & Founder of KC Mayer Consulting, Inc., a strategic leadership coaching firm. Ms. Mayer has been a leadership professional for twenty years and she currently leads workshops and does executive coaching work with a special focus on women in competitive businesses. Her perspective on leadership is shaped by her experience as a woman in competitive sports and in competitive corporate environments where she has worked for over fifteen years including ten years in investment banking. She is the author of Collaborative Competition™: A Woman’s Guide to Succeeding by Competing, which can be ordered on Kathryn Mayer can be reached at or 917-846-6694.

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