Career tips

Egoism or team play: what really helps you in your job

Do you want to make a career? Well then, put your elbows out, you’ll need them. Is that still true today? Who really gets ahead in working life, the egoists or the team players?

The ego time is over, but teamwork is extremely important. “As a first-person shooter, you no longer solve complex tasks,” says the author and management trainer.

You can be successful nowadays by making others successful. After all, happy employees would like to do more, take on more responsibility, and be more motivated. «If you have a lot of egoists on your team, you will see the opposite.»

When bite still helps

However, being a cooperative team player does not only mean being there for others but also taking responsibility for your own goals as well as for common goals.

Besides, teams also have their downsides, as Weidner explains. They could become gangs who spread fear. It is therefore important to analyze: How does peer pressure arise? Who is the spokesman? Who also supports me after mistakes? Who is against me?

“For exactly those colleagues who try to throw a stick between the legs, it takes a bite,” explains Weidner. He doesn’t mean pure egoism, on the contrary. The counselor and criminologist call it “positive aggression”. In doing so, one can sometimes be resentful and have to accept that others lose.

What Is Ethical Egoism?

Of exploiters and the exploited

How hard such a struggle can become, however, show the experiments of Prof. Manfred Milinski from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology. If one of two employees who are actually on an equal footing has the option of advancing and receiving a higher salary, he or she will develop into a so-called «blackmailer» or «exploiter».

“The exploiter continues to work with his colleague, but not in 40 percent of the cases,” explains Milinski. This makes him difficult to recognize as an exploiter. The bottom line is that the other person benefits if he or she continues to work together.

When nice colleagues pull you over the table

“You know your colleagues or bosses as nice and helpful,” explains Milinski, “and suddenly he pulls you across the table.” At first, it is thought to be a mistake, but the loop repeats itself. “If you recognize someone as a slipper, it is probably a blackmailer,” says the evolutionary biologist.

The exploitative strategy compels the counterpart in a subtle, nice way to cooperate continuously in his own interest. “Both benefit, but the exploiter significantly more,” explains Milinski. There is only one escape for the exploited: if he completely foregoes profit, which would be unreasonable.

«The rule is simple», says Milinski, «in the majority of cases, but randomly distributed, be cooperative, in the rest uncooperative.»

Asserting yourself to do good

However, one should respond to the selfish, uncooperative behavior of the other person with the same approach. “Egoists often have short-term success,” says Weidner. You knew how to perform, would be performing well. The success is seldom sustainable. «They burn like Icarus in the sun with their complacency.»

Instead, Weidner advises: Assert yourself to do good. Those who prevail help the company, which may then generate more sales or higher profits.