There are a few things in business life that make me come out in hives (metaphorically speaking). One of them has got to be ‘The Apprentice’ – a reality show that seems to exist in a time-warp. It advocates such an outmoded view of leadership, entrepreneurship & business, I don’t know whether to despair or laugh at the absurdity of it all. Machiavelli would be proud!
Apart from gender competition – boys v. girls, and the sycophantic ‘Lord Sugar’ crap – lets face it, he blows his nose and goes to the loo just like the rest of us – this is a programme that makes people think being a leader is about ego, bullying & blame. As the utterly self-absorbed corporate hopefuls try to outsmart, out-talk and oust eachother they seem to have forgotten that good business is actually based on a few strong principles:
1) Relationships matter. You might be the most brilliant brain this side of the solar system, but if you are unable to put your ego aside, it will eventually trip you up. There is a fine line between arrogance and confidence. Confidence will inspire people to follow you and clients to purchase your product or service. Arrogance will just brass them off!
2) Being a leader means that the buck stops with you. If you lead others, you accept that mistakes will happen. They are simply another way of doing things. OK, maybe the wrong way, but another way nonetheless. They are not an excuse to find a scapegoat for your own shortcomings.
3) Integrity is something you cannot manufacture. You have it or you don’t. On first inspection, most of the talentless twits on the show couldn’t even spell integrity, let alone recognise it if it happened to walk up to them and wiggle.
John F Kennedy said:’ Leadership and learning are indispensable to eachother’. I suspect Alan Sugar – along with his apprentices – is too arrogant to learn anything. Perhaps the lesson here is to change the channel!