Great leaders have an inherent ability to distill complexity into simplicity. A great story which reflects this talent is attributed to steel magnate Charles M. Schwab. One day one of his floor managers came to him complaining about varied schemes he had attempted in order to increase the average output per shift, without any luck. After having listened to his strategies Mr. Schwab simply asked him one question “How many heats has the day shift completed?”. When he got “6” as the answer he simply took a piece of chalk and wrote a big “6” on the entrance door!
When the night shift workers came in and enquired about the significance of the number “6”, they were told that the boss had enquired about the output of the earlier shift and had written that on the wall. That night, the night shift beat the day shift and demonstrated this by erasing the number “6” and writing “7” there instead. Over the next couple of weeks output from each shift surged.
Stimulating competition has a powerful effect in getting individuals to push themselves harder. To get optimal results, it is important that performance tracking is not only tracked on an individual basis, but also done in relative terms to others in the group. By using relative performance gauges we are able to push ourselves further or then simply acknowledge another’s edge by bowing out when we think we are out of a given league.