Berger Leadership Blog

Nov 12, 2021 by B. Dan Berger

The Underdog Mentality

Society loves a classic, authentic underdog story. Whether it be in sports, film, or life, people can’t help but root for the underdog. You’ve seen it all in other contexts, but have you ever considered applying that underdog mentality when it comes to your organization?

In a recent article by Adi Gaskell, he highlights how identifying your organization as an underdog can help your company succeed and achieve more goals in the long-run. Gaskell gives a few tips on building an “underdog narrative,” including:

1. Creating a sense of disadvantage that is shared among the team

As leaders, we strive to create a culture around positive traits, but sometimes, it can be beneficial to do so around marginalized traits. If you position yourself as the underdog, your team will want to work that much harder to prove otherwise.

2. Developing a shared understanding of the goals of the team

Setting clear, direct goals helps underdogs realize their potential and become much more aware on how to achieve them most effectively. As leaders, this collective understanding is crucial to align with the underdog identity.

3. Conveying a sense of collective might

The most successful underdogs typically have high levels of trust between members, that, in turn, create engaged and motivated team members that can drive results.

As leaders, developing this “underdog identity” relies not only on the motivations behind those that work for you, but also the credibility of your leadership and your ability to change the organization in a deeply embedded, positive way. If you believe in your ability to change your environment for the better, you’re able to lead your organization into any victory.

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