Sandy Lamb, owner and CEO of Altitude Business Coaching and 4word Advisory Board Member, offers her advice for choosing collaboration over competition. She also talks about why there isn’t an age cutoff for learning to be an emotionally intelligent leader.
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Tell our readers a little bit about yourself!
I believe in a world where all leaders model emotionally intelligent behavior to transform the way their teams collaborate and grow both personally and professionally. I’m the owner and CEO of Altitude Business Coaching. I had a long career spanning twenty-seven years with a global, private Engineering/Construction firm and I worked in several business lines across numerous functions ultimately landing in Program and Project Management. I’m a graduate from Johns Hopkins University with an MBA in International Business. I’m also the chair for the Colorado Springs Regional Action Committee for the Women’s Foundation of Colorado, an Advisory Board member with 4word, and a speaker coach for TedX. My husband and I live in Colorado Springs with our three teenage children.
For women in the workforce, working together seems to be a harder pill to swallow than competing against one another. Why do you think that is?
Competition is a rivalry where two or more parties strive for a common goal which cannot be shared: where one’s gain is the other’s loss. And therein lies the issue. Work is not always about one person winning or losing, and we are most certainly stronger together. There truly is no ‘I’ in team.
Unfortunately, in the case of corporate America, women are vying for fewer positions at the top. They don’t want to share information with their female peers for fear they will give them the (perceived) upper hand. But here’s the thing: go-givers always win over go-getters. When we work to lift one another up and give with no expectation of receiving anything in return, you are seen as a team player and a collaborator. And who better to lead others to do the same?
One of the topics you especially enjoy speaking about is emotional intelligence. What role could EQ play in helping women partner together professionally?
My first instinct here is to look at social awareness. When considering the five facets of an EQ assessment, the best one to address the dilemma of collaboration over competition is empathy. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. In a competitive environment, it’s all about me and not about you. So why would I take the time to get to know you as a person? Yet, when we connect emotionally with others, we build trust and stronger relationships which promotes collaboration.
If someone reads this and realizes they’ve been competing instead of collaborating with their female colleagues, how would you advise them to adjust their working relationships?
The amazing thing about emotional intelligence and leadership is that it’s never too late to start growing these skills. Ask yourself if the situation is a win-win for all involved or if someone loses in the equation. If someone loses, take a step back and reevaluate. True leaders inspire, influence, and mentor others, not compete with them.
Any final thoughts you’d like to leave readers with?
Is competition always a bad thing? I would say no. You’ve heard the phrase ‘healthy competition’ and for me, here’s what tips the scale. Did I ask for it, or is it being imposed upon me? If I’m using competition as a motivator, that’s my choice, but when it builds walls between team members and breaks down communication, I’d call that toxic.
Sandy Lamb has a passion for helping executive women and is known for challenging the status quo to get the best out of your greatest asset, people. She saw executive coaching as the perfect opportunity for her to give back the expertise and operational insights she learned in corporate America while affording her the opportunity to spend more time blending family and wellness into her life. As owner and CEO of Altitude Business Coaching, Sandy will help you build a culture of belonging and mutual respect between men and women in the workplace. Sandy spent 2019 traveling the country and speaking at Women in Energy and Nuclear conferences to educate women on how to lead authentically, with emotional intelligence and resilience. In March 2020, she attended her first live international speaking engagement in Bali, Indonesia at the Women’s Leadership and Empowerment Conference (WLEC) and returned in March 2021 as a speaker and panel moderator for WLEC and the International Conference on Spirituality and Psychology (ICSP) hosted virtually from Bangkok, Thailand.
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