Muli was born and brought up in Machakos, a county east of Nairobi the capital city of Kenya. His was from a lineage of weavers and so he found himself taking over from his father. Muli was very adaptive and when new technologies emerged, he was among the first, to embrace it. This put him way ahead of his competitors. His products were of a unique design and of very high quality. This endeared him to many clients. Word spread far and wide and within no time, clients were flocking to his outlets, eager to buy his products. The high number of clients necessitated more employees. This posed another challenge: negative competition amongst his employees. Those in the production line were made to feel inferior by those who were in sales and marketing. This soon started affecting the overall performance of the business.
Muli scratched his head looking for answers. Then an idea hit him, the answer he was looking for was right in his business premises. At the Monday morning brief, he walked into the conference room carrying thirty pieces of individual threads and thirty pieces of clothing materials. He gave each of his thirty employees one piece of thread and one piece of cloth. He instructed them to cut the thread into two which they did with ease. Then he instructed them to tear the piece of cloth each had into two. This proved a more difficult task. “My dear friends” Muli began, “You have seen how easy it is to cut into two, the piece of thread but once all these threads are combined to make a piece of cloth, it’s more difficult to tear and it’s value is greatly enhanced. All of us here are individual threads and each by him/herself cannot achieve much but once we come together, we make a team capable of achieving astonishing results. All of us are equally important and play an equal role in making this business a success. We are better off working together in unity instead of each doing their own thing indepedently, and on their own. Sales team will not be successful if there are no products to sell and production will be doing zero work, if there is nobody to take the finished products to the market. So let’s work as a team for the betterment of our company.”
This lesson from Muli applies across the board. It’s common to see cutthroat competition amongst employees of the same company, each trying to outshine the other even if they are not in the same department, in the hope of catching the eye of the CEO or board so that when a senior position becomes available, they will be the first, to be considered for promotion.
Imagine everybody wanting to be the striker in a game of soccer. They would lose that game because there will be nobody manning the defense. Each player in his or her own capacity contributes to the overall success. Let’s avoid competition and instead, focus on complementing each teammate. To read more posts by Mwangi, click HERE
Photo Credit – https://unsplash.com/@pinamessina