We all get satisfaction from being on top.
If you have the newer car, I’ll get solace in the fact that my child has better grades than yours. If I have the bigger income, you will get solace in the fact that you have the happier family.
And when we compare closely on something, we will both make an extra effort to come out on top. That’s why leaderboards are so effective. It motivates the top people to try just a little bit harder.
If you have ten salespeople and two are vying for the top spot, a leaderboard will encourage both of them to try that much harder. The other folks on the list, won’t be motivated if they don’t have a shot at the title, but they will take solace in the fact that they have the newer car, better grades, more money and a happier family than the board leader.