Playing to Win in Business

The “game” of business is one of the most challenging and rewarding games we can choose to play. In order to succeed, you need to understand that you are playing a game — often with high stakes. Here are some principles that can help you master your business game.

#1 Life Is Made Up of Games

Work is a game. Before jumping in or when you feel you are stalled, take time to consciously answer these questions: “What are the rules? What is the strategy? What does it take to succeed in this game?”

[wcm_restrict]#2 Know Yourself

We all have strengths and weaknesses. Critically assess your skill set and ask yourself, “Do I have what it will take to win in this game? Am I doing things that I enjoy? Am I willing adjust my basic game plan to be successful in this setting and this culture?”

#3 Learn the Rules

Every game has both formal and informal rules. The Rules – with a capital “R” — are easy to find in a policy manual or employee handbook. The more important and unspoken rules – the little “r” rules – are often more difficult to master. Rules such as “What does my boss really want? How frank should I be with my co-workers? When should I bring an issue up the chain of command?” You have to understand the rules as they exist in order to determine if or when you should bend them or try to change them.

#4 What is “Winning?”

What is “winning” for you? Making lots of money? Having a predictable work schedule? Working with colleagues that you enjoy and trust? Each of us has to determine what is “winning” for ourselves and understand that what is winning today may change over time.

#5 Develop Grit and Perseverance

“Winners” are not always the smartest people in the game, but often are the people who are willing to do whatever it takes to be successful. Take on assignments that no one else wants. Be willing to try new approaches and to work with difficult people. Demonstrate that you can get the job done no matter what the obstacles and challenges you may encounter along the way.

#6 Become an Expert

There are still unconscious biases in the workplace. By becoming an expert, you help to remove the bias. Become the “go to” person in an area that you enjoy. When a crisis arises (as they inevitably do), people will look for the person who knows the most about an issue and who can address the problem. They will be looking to you.

#7 Manage Your Losses

You will have wins and you will have losses. The long-term winners learn to acknowledge their mistakes, make amends and learn from their errors. If you remember that business is a game, it will help you keep your perspective. People will watch how you deal with your losses, so don’t be a sore loser.

#8 Don’t Listen to the “Press”

We all have people who will critique our performance – often without understanding or caring about our intentions. Don’t let the naysayers wear you down. Surround yourself with people who are supportive and who will give you constructive feedback.

#9 Know When to Leave the Game

Sooner or later, it is time to move on. You may have mastered this game or just find that it is not fun anymore. Whatever the case, leave with grace and class. Notify your supervisor before telling subordinates and colleagues. Be positive and professional as you leave this game and your teammates. Keep in mind that you never know who you may encounter in future games.

Now, go on. Get out there and play hard. Always play to win![/wcm_restrict][wcm_nonmember]

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About the Author

Shirley WeisShirley Weis is the author of Playing to Win in Business, an award-winning book that helps women (and men) navigate the sometimes-confusing games of the workplace. She is also President of Weis Associates, LLC and a Special Advisor to the President of Arizona State University. Prior to forming Weis Associates, LLC, she was the Chief Administrative Officer of Mayo Clinic, a 60,000 employee, $9 billion international healthcare organization.

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