Last week I was watching The Apprentice. It was a very interesting study in leadership. The project manager for the male team agreed to the project manager role as long as the team obeyed him, adopting a clear command and control style of leadership.
Through the program, he exerted his control. Two noticeable events:
1. One person on his team made an appointment for 1130. He wanted if for 1100. In front of everyone he told him that he expects him to follow commands to the ‘T’. If he wants 1100, he does not want 1130. He had the guy rebook the appointment.
2. He went to oversee the creation of a costume and left 6 people from the team to brainstorm the creative aspects of the tasks. The 6 did well and were very proud of their output. The team leader returned, told them to pitch him their ideas and without team consultation, over rode the 6 and eliminated all of their work from the presentation.
It was fascinating to watch. Fortunately for this leader, they won. But if they had not won, I can guarantee you he would have been viewed as the weakest link and fired. Why?
It comes down to a personal belief of ‘Win together, lose alone’. As a leader, if you take his approach and dictate the path (all the time), then people will not feel responsible for the team’s actions and output. Those actions are dictated, not collaborative, so there is no buy-in. There is no sense of team. Decisions will be viewed as the leader’s decisions. If they go bad, where will the blame be assigned? The leader. In this case, if they would have lost, the team would have pointed to how he did not discuss the decision to eliminate the work of 6 from the presentation – he just over turned it (Just one example of his poor leadership).
This does not mean that command and control leadership is never warranted. On the contrary, I have personally witnessed it employed effectively on many occasions. But, for this leader, I would suggest that he read the book Primal Leadership. Primal Leadership (HBR) studied effective leadership styles and discussed how the effective leader uses many styles and creates resonance within the team:
He is attuned to people’s feelings and moved them in a positive emotional direction. Speaking authentically from his own values and resonating with the emotions of those around him, he hit just the right chords with his message, leaving people uplifted and inspired even in a difficult moment. When a leader triggers resonance, you can read it in people’s eyes: They are engaged and they light up.
The effective leader employs different leadership styles for different situations (There are 6 styles: visionary, coaching, affiliative, democratic, pacesetting and commanding). Employing the wrong style in a situation causes dissonance, which often takes the team down the wrong path over the long term.
Lucky for this guy, it was a 24 hour challenge. Another 24 hours or a loss would have seen it unravel – because he did not match his leadership style to the situation.