Leadership By Reputation

Mar 13th, 2011 | By | Category: A game, abundance, Career advice, career challenges, competing, competitive peers, mentor, strategy, success, tactics

Even leaders can gain from a mentor and mentoring comes in many forms. I am becoming a fan of the TV show Survivor. In many respects it is a microcosm that reflects leadership strategies. In my opinion the game of resembles the workplace. There are teams that compete against each other while each individual is competing to remain in the game. Although there are situations and circumstances that are quite different from the office, the personalities and behavior are very similar to that encountered at the office.

There are some very big differences between the office and the TV show. One of the most important differences is that in the workplace management makes the decisions on who advances and who goes home, not the other employees. Still there seems to be a competition among employees to gain the favorable recognition of their peers.

Contestants on reality TV shows are selected for their potential entertainment value, and to ensure a good mix of different personalities. Each group of contestants seems to have their own unique characteristics, much like each office has its own culture. Although the personalities involved may be similar, the overall group dynamics varies among different firms and departments. In the workplace management usually is the driver, shaping the groups characteristics. Even in the military where everything is done by the same book, there is a difference in each unit’s culture.

One thing that is very informative on the TV show is the private interviews with contestants during the show. They will ask different contestants to comment on their strategies and the other contestants. Often this illustrates the difference between what a contestant thinks he is accomplishing, what the others think. For example, last week a very strong player, Russell, who had made it to the finals in two other Survivor seasons, was brought back for a third try. He employed the same tactics that were so successful in prior seasons in gaining control over the group. This season, those tactics were totally ineffective. The majority of the group banned together and voted him off very early in the game. Although Russell accused the group of not understanding how the game was played, they were playing the game their way, and Russell was out.

In this instance the majority of the group had watched the two seasons where Russell used his skill in convincing group members to vote off his main rivals to defend their own longevity in game. Instead of varying his tactics or camouflaging his intention, he relied on his previous successes to assure his leadership role. Instead it backfired and he was one of the first to be sent home because the majority believed he was their biggest threat, and the sooner he was gone, the safer they would be.

There was a similar scenario in the competing group. Boston Rob, who was a contestant in two previous seasons of Survivor, was brought back for another try. He was also a strong player, and known for his deceitful tactics. However, this season he changed his tactics, and used his experience to gain the confidence of his group and obtained leadership role among his group.

The show is just getting started so I am sure there will be many twists and turns before it all over, but the biggest eye opener so far is how important it is correctly judge and adapt your strategy to your environment. Even if you possess good leadership abilities, no one is just going to hand over control. You have to convince the majority that you will protect their interests.

The PracticaL Mentor

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