Saturday, March 05, 2005

The Apprentice--Miniature Golf Episode

Well, it is amazing how things can change in just a couple of weeks. Net Worth was invincible three weeks ago and now it seems in shambles. Magma went from divisive to cohesive in that same time span and now share a lot of smiles, jokes and laughter. Stephanie, the Red Project Manager, and the Magma team worked together and came up with a great result. She let Kendra and Erin take charge of the marketing after embracing their ideas and they really made the difference. Stephanie was an example of great Red leadership this week. Having won the Harlem Grafitti project took the edge off of the personality conflicts and internal warfare of prior weeks.

The "Clash of the Titans" this week was between John and Audrey on NetWorth. There were major sparks from the beginning of the episode and it reached a full scale eruption in the boardroom at the end.

Let's start at the beginning after Audrey returned from the boardroom with Craig. She started sharing with Angie her troubled past, but John has no sensitivity to other's feelings. He marched out onto the balcony while Audrey was spilling her guts and he was not about to leave, even when asked to do so.

John made very clear how he did not like Audrey and many of the others were not fond of her either. Audrey resented John but was determined to show how valuable she was to the team. Her way of showing it was to offer to take on the role of Project Manager. A few opted to support her right away but John did not, showing not only by his words but also by his body language (turned away from Audrey even as he spoke to her) that he did not want anything to do with her.

Audrey was strident in her determination to be Manager; John offered to have Chris instead. Then he relented. Why?

John is Red. He sees things as black and white and win/lose. John did not want to give up power to someone he did not trust because (a) she did not seem competent in past projects and (b) she seemed too emotional and unpredictable. Her arguments did not convince him otherwise, but John saw how the others were leaning Audrey's way and Chris, his nomination, didn't step up to the plate to offer himself as a better alternative. What to do? Go along with it and cover his flanks.

Chris has been easily manipulated by John and is not a Red. He seems reluctant to stand up to the plate or even to Trump, but he will be an ally with John and Craig when they need him. At this point Chris is probably an Aqua or Yellow. He did put on the clown suit first when Audrey asked while John was defiant.

From the beginning, John, Craig and Chris were not committed to success even though each was delegated certain responsibilities. John knew that the more he got involved in directing a substantial portion of the project, the more he was exposed. So John, Craig and Chris asked Audrey to tell them what to do. Chris did not seem able to think for himself. When John told him to talk to Audrey, that is what he did. It was all well planned to cut off Audrey at the knees, but the plan almost backfired because of John's arrogance and abrasiveness. His ego almost caused him to be fired and that is what Reds can do to themselves in a turf war. They can be so focused on "burying" the fellow "team member" that they undercut their own stature with the rest of the team.

This is what John did. "I am going to go into the boardroom and bury her". "She thinks this is the Clash of the Titans but it is like a lion swatting at a gnat." John thinks he knows how to wage political battles--hit them directly and hit them hard. That is the Red style. But his attitude and his condescending remark about Audrey being a "22 year old girl" turned off Ashly(sp?), Trump's assistant. His full on frontal assault certainly didn't get him any points with Tana and Angie. John escaped the guillotine. Audrey's immaturity, lack of leadership and her bringing in Angie probably sealed her fate. Trump saw her as the weaker of the two.

Reds are often blinded by the collaterol damage from their battles with others in the business world. They may beat the "opponent" but lose the support they need from all those who saw how this opponent--a fellow team member, boss or subordinate--was brought down. We shall see how much political capital John lost from what he perceived to be a victory.

So what is Audrey? She revealed a very tough childhood, which can really skew behavior. If her parents rejected her for who she was, she may have adopted a different personality to be accepted by them and by others. Many assume a Red personality in the workplace because they believe it is necessary for them to survive and succeed. Ultimately, it won't do the trick because these people send off mixed messages about who they are. Audrey tries to act Red but doesn't pull it off.

Audrey's parents were in prison by the time Audrey was in her early teens and Audrey even had to live in a car according to what she shared with Angie. Having that background definitely can cause authority issues. She resents anyone treating her "like a child" or anyone giving her any orders whatsoever.

If she was born a Yellow, she has lost most of it. She has to prove her value to the world--that she is something other than a pretty face--but she knows her beauty has opened doors. Her final comment in the cab showed some smugness that Trump thought she was beautiful.

Audrey likes to delegate and have those she has delegated responsibility to take care of their duties without having her make the decisions. She really did not seem to enjoy making decisions and preferred to have them write down what they had done during the day instead of having them take action. Reds like to delegate, but they take over if the person with the assigned responsibility doesn't perform. Blues don't like to delegate and don't do it well, but they usually take the project back over because no one can quite do it as well as they think they can. Aquas probably would not have caused the turmoil she caused up to that point with her teammates. So Audrey is not Aqua. That leaves Red or Blue and she behaves at times inconsistent with both colors.

In the boardroom, Audrey said, "I feel that this is what leaders are supposed to do." Reds rarely use the phrase "I feel". those are wasted words. Better stated by a Red: "This is what leaders are supposed to do." Audrey sought solace from Angie after they lost and before the final boardroom decision about whether she had delegated things ok. Audrey did not show strong leadership so I would have to say Audrey is a Blue trying to be a Red and not doing to well at it.

Reds are normally not inclined to expose themselves, which she did with Angie and Chris out on the balcony. That is unless what is shared is designed to get more power or influence over those with whom you share.

When Audrey campaigned for Project Manager, she affirmed how she "is in the business of business"--a Red comment; however, her indecisiveness when John and Chris asked her whether to work on the greens or do the marketing does not show a Red strength but a Blue or Aqua weakness. A tough childhood may have undermined her self confidence as well as her knowing that John and Chris were posturing to make her take the fall if they lose. So that too could have made her hesitate.

People are rarely a pure breed in any one color. Most all of us are blends. Audrey seems to be a blend between Red and Blue; I would venture that her primary color may be Blue, but her childhood likely has her trying to be something she is not. She has taken on a lot of Red to survive. What lies beneath the surface? Probably a wounded Blue trying to be Red to show her worth to others.

Now, the question is how many bridges has John burned? Some may admire his "in your face" power attitude. But others probably lost respect for John going over the top to "bury Audrey" We shall see.

So if you were Audrey and you knew from the outset of being Project Manager that John didn't want you there and probably wasn't on board, what should you do. This issue is what leaders confront all the time when one of the team members, usually a Red, shows open defiance or hostility to your leadership.

Do not put him in a key role. Recognize that he will likely not perform well what he has been asked to do so don't put him in a position that will sabotage the success of the project. Angie and Tana could have been assigned the marketing. Let John do a more menial task or something that she could supervise. If he refuses to perform, let him be isolated in his rebellion and move forward with the rest of the team. He may likely hang himself or start to cooperate.

Should Audrey have waited to try to take charge as the Project Manager. It was a calculated gamble. She could spend the time on the project building up trust by hard work and doing the best at what she was assigned to do so she could get back in the good favor of the other team members. On the other hand, another project manager who was intent on getting her off the team could have put her in a role that would achieve that agenda. Regardless, Audrey probably would have better chance to control her destiny by doing her best under another project manager other than John. That is what I would have done in her position because the key for me as a leader is to have some trust level established before I take the role. This process doesn't allow for me to get the trust over time as a leader. It is a one shot deal so I would not take charge until I knew I had some political capital with most of the team members.

Until next time, be yourself. Everybody else is already taken.


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