So last week you saw me unleash my fury at the pompous Lord Sugar who claimed that "he’s never seen an engineer make a good businessman". Clearly thoughts like this struck a chord, as the broadsheets for the entire week were full of criticism of his Lord Sugarness.
To right too! This week I have to say he almost fooled me in to thinking he was alright… the great line, "hang on, it is a momentous occasion, Leon is speaking," was a cracker. However, it was short-lived as he reverted to type with "she’ll bulldoze over anyone who gets in her way, tread all over them…I like that". Really? Did no one tell this bastion of British business that Gordon Gecko is dead for a reason?
Business today is not a "war"; your competitors are your partners, your suppliers and, in some instances, best of friends. You can take two views in business, firstly one of scarcity; there is not enough work for us all, I have to protect everything I have, bully, scare and at all costs "do to others, before they do to me". The interesting thing about scarcity is that it brings with it feelings of fear and aggression.
Now turn that around and just for a minute live in a world of abundance, where there is enough work for us all, where collaboration and the desire to share your experiences is welcomed, respected and valued. Abundance, is positive, it feels good.
In a world of abundance, Chemistry (the business I founded) shares it’s IP with anyone who is interested, in the belief that fundamentally, people want to do the right thing and will do the right thing by you. We give, not with the expectation that we will receive but in the knowledge that it is a gift alone to give, so why wouldn’t we? In a world of abundance there is nothing to fight over, so there is no fight and therefore no bloody Melody’s!
Business can be a testerone, gladiatorial battle to the death or not – it’s your choice. The truth is the latest generation, the F-Gen (Facebook apparently) are the most connected and uninhibited by the ownership/scarcity generation that we have ever seen. The ugly face of business The Apprentice represented last night is an alien concept to many of them – and I would argue to a lot of the generations before.
Blimey that was heavy, now to the fluff for tonight.
Oh dear. Tom was a disastrous PM but still a lovely man. In The Apprentice environment of scarcity, the Tom’s of this world cannot survive, the lovely man played "Rock, paper, scissors" for crying out loud. The truth is, Tom will never make a good PM in The Apprentice because what they look for at a cellular level is not something he possesses. Tom has what we call High Fellowship. He’s a sociable animal at work but incredibly low Authority, like my beautiful 14 year old daughter. He is not quick or decisive in his decision making. He is slow and collaborative, he values relationships above the organisational need – or in The Apprentice’s case – the task in hand. It is more important to him that people feel they have had an equal contribution than the end goal of making money. This core value reflected in his performance. Look, he’s stuck with this, he is never going to be a shouty, dictatorial PM, never, ever.
Could he be a phenomenal manager of people? Yes, with the right coaching. Why? Because above all with Tom, it’s not about Tom. And this is the foundation stone of truly great people management (not the high profile rubbish stuff you find in books). Great people managers are egoless; they are doing what they do not for them but for others. That’s Tom.
Unfortunately for Tom, this does not mean he has the potential to be a truly great leader. His Authority is too low. However, the same is true of the abhorrent Melody. Neither will make great leaders not because they have anything in common, but they are at the opposite ends of the scale for the key Value measures for great leadership.
If Tom is too slow in his decision making and seeks consensus, Melody is too fast and independent. If Tom is egoless and therefore lacks some "oomph", Melody is too ego driven, her inability to see Tom’s view on the baby seat/rucksack, the way she refused to look in to La Redoute and also refused to share her meetings (actually she would have rather had not done them at all than shared them), showed not a competitive nature – but an ego out of control.
Compare both of these people with the nailed on winner, Helen, who has the right balance of Fellowship, Authority & Ego and you start seeing the difference between a potentially good people manager (Tom) and a potentially great third world dictator (Melody), to that of an engaging, empathetic, yet driven leader. Helen’s pitch at La Redoute was sublime.
So for the second time in two episodes, Lord Sugar fired the wrong person. He should have bulleted Jim last week and Melody this. Not because I believe Leon or Tom will win The Apprentice, but because by affirming that Melody was "made of the right stuff" he has created a monster.
At the same time, he is proving again he is out of touch with how people leading real businesses think today.