Wednesday, March 16, 2005

The Apprentice--Charity Fundraiser

As I indicated last week, John had lost a lot of political capital from his war with Audrey the prior week. This new week started out with changes in team personnel. Stephanie and Erin joined Net Worth and Tana and Craig joined Magma. Chris was chosen to be Net Worth's project leader and Kendra was elected to be Magma's project leader because neither had been it before.

The teams were assigned to do a charity fundraiser on TV and they had access to a group of star musicians to use for their charity auction. Chris assigned John, Erin and Stephanie to negotiate with the musicians. Kendra asked Tana and Craig to negotiate.

John essentially took over on the negotiations despite Stephanie's and Erin's efforts to participate. Reds like to be in charge and they fall in love with their own ideas. That can lead to their own downfall. Reds are not inclined to ask for input particularly when they have concluded they are the strongest on their team. John thought his music background and his macho approach was perfect for his assignment so he came into the meetings with each of the three musicians with ideas already for what they could do for the auction. John's confidence and arrogance even kept him from asking the musicians for their input. Erin's and Stephanie's ideas were ignored if offered, so it became all about John.

When in the Board Room, John defended himself by saying that Erin and Stephanie should have told him if they thought they had better ideas, but John never really was open to their ideas even if they had offered them, because he fell in love with his own. That is what Reds need to watch out for in business. They try to reach a decision quickly. They are more inclined to act on what they came up with or at least what they think they came up with. They tend to get locked into a certain direction despite the fact that they have not had enough input from others as to their ideas and their challenging of the Red's ideas. Reds can act like a steamroller moving ahead with their own strategy. When things fall apart, Reds may then look to their team members and blame them for not having offered something different, oblivious to the reality that they would not have accepted the other strategies, even if they had been offered. That is what happened to John.

John had already burned bridges with Angie and he was ready to cut off Chris, his biggest ally. He immediately lost favor with Erin and Stephanie, so he had no political capital left with his team. He was alone trying to defend himself from being fired.

Chris is an interesting story. He handled the TV appearance very well as a Yellow can. He delegated the negotiations to John, Erin and Stephanie. That decision proved fateful but when cornered in the Board Room by Trump's assistants, Chris came out swinging and it almost proved to be his own demise. By calling himself the best negotiator of the team, which he wasn't, he was in a corner. Why then didn't he maximize the chances of winning by negotiating. His answers were weak. He would have had a better outcome if he said that he thought the three he assigned were solid negotiators and he had confidence they could do their part. His strength was better utilized in creating the actual show. It was his strength.

The episode illustrated how our behavior changes under stress. Chris became more red when he was cornered and he turned to self preservation even if it meant sacrificing John, who he thought was his ally and friend.

Tana seems Red but she knew better how to play to the egos of the musicians. She was adept and creative in coming up with the best use of the musicians and pushing the envelope. Her Mary Kay background as the top sales person had prepared her well. She knew how to close the deal and get the most out of the assets she was given. She demonstrated how powerful a positive Red can be. She was manipulating the musicians but in a subtle way. It worked.

Tana will be hard to beat if she keeps this up.

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