What a difference a week makes. After an assured start last week, it was the girls’ turn (minus Stella), to experience the bitter taste of defeat. In what can only be described as a “shameful” display (we miss Raleigh) in the boardroom, the girls allowed infighting and self interest to derail this week’s task.  It got so bad that Karren Brady felt the need to remind them that they were supposed to be “representing business women everywhere”.  Not particularly well it seems. In fact, given their inept product, incessant squabbling and screeching recriminations, it would have been a travesty if the girls’ team had won.

The task itself was to develop an original beach accessory.  The boys’ team seemed to reach an idea relatively painlessly, whereas the girls struggled to come up with any original suggestions.  Demonstrating how not to facilitate a brainstorming process, Laura filtered which ideas were even recorded and the group rolled their eyes at many of the suggestions made.  Under time pressure and with no other viable options, Joanna’s idea for a beach book stand was chosen.  

Laura and Stella’s contrasting leadership styles were evident throughout the task.  Despite initially taking quite a tough line, telling the boys “if there’s any disagreement I’m not going to put up with it”, Stella maintained control of the task throughout without being overly assertive.  Generally her team seemed to respect her authority (of course with some mild backstabbing and school boy giggling), and she showed drive and focus in seeing the task through to completion.  As far as the pitch was concerned, Stella clearly laid down responsibilities, and took action early on when she had concerns over Chris’s pitching ability (correctly highlighted as “dreary and monotone”, by Nick Hewer).  She could perhaps have followed her instinct with this and replaced Chris altogether, but once the pitch was underway she rightly took a back seat allowing others to perform to the best of their ability. 

Stella’s style was in marked contrast to Laura’s, who felt the need to remind her team that she was the project manager and they should listen to her.  Laura demonstrated a lack of emotional intelligence in managing both her own emotions and those of others, failing to crack a smile for the whole episode and at one point flouncing out of the room announcing “I can’t work with them anymore”.  In fairness, the team were challenging to manage. However, Laura will have to develop greater resilience and persistence (ie Drive) if she is going to be successful.  Laura also showed a lack of judgement (Intellect) when the key issue of exclusivity was raised by one of the retailers.  Rather than exploring the option (either with her team or with the Client), she immediately dismissed the idea, resulting in zero sales, achieving an undesirable ‘first’ for The Apprentice

Despite appearing to be a relatively effective project manager in week 1, this week a whole different side of Joanna emerged.  She demonstrated ‘Drive in overdrive’, which she excused as ‘passion’ but the rest of her team interpreted as aggression.  She also demonstrated a lack of team orientation (Values) when claiming the idea for the book stand, rather than positioning it as a team effort (although she tried to claim when challenged that this was actually an indication  of her integrity, as she couldn’t lie). 

Joanna and Joy were Laura’s choices to bring back into the boardroom, which was a good call on Laura’s part given that Lord Sugar seemed to have it in for Joy from the start.  It was a lucky escape for Laura and Joanna with Joy losing out because of her percieved lack of contribution over the first two episodes.

In the wise words of Jamie, “it’s not a crime to make a mistake; it’s a crime not to learn from it”.  With some pretty harsh feedback from Lord Sugar, it will be interesting to see whether Laura and Jo can demonstrate Learning Agility for future episodes.

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