Monday, January 8, 2007

Tough Choices!

Did you happen to watch the first episode of this season's Apprentice? How would you like to make the choice of firing either the loud-mouthed, abrasive project manager or the inept, philosophising lawyer? Tough choice.

If you're in business or a part of one, you should watch the show just to learn a few things about human nature. I'm sure some of the personalities on the show are chosen just to make good drama for TV. On the other hand, if you read some of the bios of the candidates, these are no run-of-the-mill college students looking for their first jobs.

The margin between the successful team and the losers was small. The winning team was only about 5% better than their counterparts. There was a huge difference in the rewards the teams recieved. Live in the mansion or the tent. Dinner at a world renown restaurant or grill burgers in the dark.

The clear difference between the project managers in last night's episode was Heidi's ability to gain trust from her team by focusing on the relationship with them. She asked questions, let people take creative control of their assignments, offered suggestions and let people know what thier priorities were. Frank's tactic was to bark orders, micromanage and be inattentive to the idiosyncrasies of what was going on with his team. Frank won't be a finalist on this show, mark my words. But I'm sure they'll keep him around for a while just to add some elecrticity and controversy!

How long would you work for Frank? I'd hire Heidi right now if I needed a leader who could build team spirit, get the best from her team and produce the best long term results. I'll be watching next week to see who shines and who doesn't.


Anonymous said...

Heidi and Frank weren't compared by personality. That's what I like about the show. It puts project managers' results ahead of their individual value/talent. So no matter how small the victory, Heidi survives.

The tough choice, as you mentioned, was Frank or Martin. It wasn't when Martin asked to be excused or when he was idly standing on a rock as they built the tent when I thought he should go. It was when Adam correctly observed Martin's insecurity about his own sales and when he smugly criticized Frank as sat in the tent and "debriefed" prior to the Board Room that I realized he had to go. He laid blame more instead of offering a critique. That's when I concluded that Martin was an observer and not a doer.

Sure, Frank's obnoxious and loud; and he lost. But when I compare the future value-added of each, I go with Frank because at this stage, I can let Frank loose on a task and he'll do his best (efficiently or not) to get it done. I don't see Martin as an aggressive self-starter.

Dave said...

You're right about the results being ahead of thier individual talent. In the, end as you mentioned in your comments, the cream will rise to the top. Those individuals who can rally others to achieve the best results will be in the final four.

Any bets on the finalists? Too early for me to make a call, but I bet Heidi will be in the top half.

Anonymous said...

which would you choose a leader who motivates and inspires or a person who is results oriented?

Dave said...

The best leaders inspire their teams to get the best results.

A great leader is ambidextrous! Understanding that high morale is a precursor to high achievement. Enthusiasm and execution go hand in hand. Passion, pride and hard work are complimentary to a good strategy.

If you want lasting results in a company that is going to be around for the long haul, you have to understand that inspirational leadership and results driven leadership are not mutually exclusive.

Thanks for the post!