Leadership lessons from Reality Shows

Young professionals can learn more about leadership skills by watching a bunch of reality shows, than they can by going through business magazines and books.

I am serious. Take the Survivor for example. The granddaddy of reality/game-show genre is packed with more junior level leadership lessons than any book that comes under the ‘How To Win Friends And Influence People’ category.

On Survivor and its Indian equivalent ‘Sarkar Ki Duniya’ a dozen strangers are thrown into a foreign environment. Not only are they expected to function as a team and accomplish difficult challenges, but they be well liked and respected.

You need someone to mentor you on ways to lead from within the pack and earn immunity from the vicious rumor mill. For those who are still a bit sceptical, the following profiles of typical reality show winner and losers should help you spot the similarities between the personalities on the island and those in your company.

The Losers

The Antisocial DIY
In every season of Survivor, there are at least a couple of participants who decide to prove their mettle by rigging a very serviceable raft and fishing alone for for several hours. They believe that by taking the role of the provider, they will become invaluable to the rest of the group, and earning immunity. However, lone rangers rarely make it beyond the fifth episode, because while they are out catching dinner, their mates are busy forging relationship, conniving and plotting strategy.

It’s funny when these DIY dudes and dudettes get voted off. They never see it coming. Once the tribal verdict is read, the stunned fisherman invariably makes an impassionate speech about "how you mother@%#$ will never be able to survive without me!" before leaving in a huff.

Likewise in a business setting, there are people who tend to get so caught up in their own tasks that they lose perspective about how they fit into the goals of the team, or the organisation as a whole.

The ‘Know-it-All’
Just because the person knows a lot about surviving in the wilderness, that doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s most equipped to lead a team.

Mr ‘know-it-all’ is a perfect example. These guys and gals come decades worth of outdoor experience and thus feel they should be automatically elevated to pack leader. Their mates do respond favourably by choosing the expert to lead them for a week or two. However, they soon realize they can no longer bear the incessant stream of ‘unsolicited advice’ and ‘disparaging remarks’ from the leader.

In Sarkar Ki Duniya, the army chick Sumisha Shanker almost got herself voted out right after successfully leading her team to complete weekly challenge. Though the other contestants acknowledged her leadership qualities, even her closest friends agreed that she was harsh and overbearing.

No one likes work with Know-it-all. Keep your well-intentioned expert suggestions to yourself, unless specifically requested to step in and help. Let the office know that they can approach you anytime they need help. but don’t force your expertise on them.

The Winner

The most successful leaders on 'Survivor' and 'Sarkar Ki Duniya', knew that it was more important to listen well than to talk big.

Puneesh Sharma, the winner of Sarkar Ki Duniya was a curious combination of confidence, competence and a strong work ethic. However, what made him a winner in the eyes of his compatriots was his willingness to forge strong relationships that went beyond the game. When it came to leading his team, even his harshest critics ended up supporting him.

While most contestants went to sleep early after working all day long on their ‘tasks’, the confidant stays up talking with his team mates, cracking jokes and boosting their overall morale. He leads but always with example, but unlike ‘the antisocial DIY’ is smart enough to always be in the know.

Lesson learnt from the Confidant– In stressful competitive environments like reality television or the Office emotional leaders are more powerful than self absorbed alpha dogs.

Arrange by dearJulius.com Team



eZineInsider.com Career: Leadership lessons from Reality Shows
Leadership lessons from Reality Shows
eZineInsider.com Career
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