Seriously, why does he call them at 5am?  What is that all about?  However, it might explain why some of last night’s contestants appeared to sleep walk through the task they were set and possibly why Alex managed to sleep through both nights, only to wake up and be fired!

Last night’s task was to design, launch and market a new mobile app for the (I’ll put it in CAPS LOCK for the boys) GLOBAL market.  In difference to the previous night, the boys’ "gung-ho" style suited the initial part of the task brilliantly and PM Leon’s rather laid back style inadvertently facilitated a richer, more imaginative idea creation session than the girls.  If anyone can remember last year, a similar thing happened with the beach product – personally, I still read my books from a "beach book stand"! 

I can give you the single reason why the girls’ creativity was stifled; it came in the form of the evil dictator Edna. 

Leon let the ideas flow, didn’t judge and just let them shout out.  Even when the now getting quite annoying Thomas blurted out "traffic lights", the boys – because of the environment/team culture – didn’t dismiss it, but rather let Thomas plead his stupidity and have it removed.  The boys’ creative session was a case study in group idea creation. 

The girls, however, were the complete opposite, Edna pouted, dismissed, shouted over and generally bullied the girls in to silence.  Who the hell would throw an idea in to that waterless pool!

Now the message for today’s blog sits in Edna’s style of management, as whilst we scream with laughter, cringe in horror and fundamentally believe that we would never behave like that, I would like to challenge you, because…

…every day, in every meeting I observe Edna in others. I have even been Edna myself, I am sure.  What Edna managed to do with her verbal and non-verbal communication is create a culture of fear. 

This happens every time you do not look at someone when they are telling you about an idea, thought or feeling they have; it happens when you cross your arms and squint at them in some kind of declaration that "you’re not getting it"; it happens when you roll your eyes, click your pen or, even worse, interrupt them. 

We are a business nation that is just downright rude when creating empathy. Through haste or arrogance, we frequently miss valuable input.  Even worse, we suppress someone’s desire to give of themselves or an idea again.  Every day Ednas crush belief, confidence and creativity.  Edna, you should be ashamed.

Saying that, of course, her team won despite the boys’ unity, creativity and fantastic pitching. The pitch to the 500/600 people was genius, fantastic.

So what went wrong with Leon as the PM?

Well, the task tonight for the PM was about:




Leon, and I do believe completely inadvertently, facilitated the creativeness, however did not feel confident challenging the final idea, robustly evaluating its relevance to the brief.

My 13 year old daughter immediately said on hearing the idea, "that’s not global", and if you were watching closely so did Leon. However, my 13 year old said it with confidence and knowledge;  Leon whimpered it and it was quickly batted away.  That was it, his mistake was not to challenge and push. 

This stems from the fact that Leon (the ditherer) has what we call in the trade "Low Authority", his decision making (or lack of it) is slow and collaborative, he follows, but does not feeling comfortable leading.  He struggled as a PM because fundamentally he looks to others to make decisions.  Decisiveness tonight was his undoing and his bravery/stupidity (fine line), his making. 

Lord Sugar did the right thing for the second night in a row and fired Alex.  Lacking in confidence, Alex shied away from any sense of responsibility for 2 tasks, and got fired for it. As a passenger when the train crashed he was not in a position to avoid the impact. 

Jim (we like Jim a lot) was sitting next to the driver with both hands on the wheel; he saw the impact coming and baled eloquently and confidently.  Glenn emerged as a threat to Jim’s dominance, and Vincent was exposed for the preened but slightly hollow figure he is.  The presentation "choke" was horrific to watch.

So Lord Sugar rewarded the brave and culled the cowardly tonight, however the win detracted from the true villain of the show, Edna.  Creating an environment where people’s true thoughts and feelings cannot be heard is a leadership crime that stifles talent and creativity in companies around the world. 

Edna’s display tonight was a timely reminder that whilst it might get you the result in the short term, it makes you few friends and no great leader!

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