Lessons from the Apprentice
Credit Piracy and Blame Avoidance?
The other day I was reminded of a colleague from a firm I worked at some years ago. I’ll call him Steve. The phrase that was used to describe him evoked quite a vivid image, and for the blog I’ll use the more polite form that is summarised as “Credit Piracy and Blame Avoidance”. Steve had progressed through the management hierarchy quite quickly as a result of some effective work, however, the popular opinion was that he was quite good at finding convincing reasons why any mistakes along the way were not his and that any and all successes were all due to his personal involvement. Maybe you know of someone like that too?
If you watch the popular media then you wouldn’t be surprised at that approach. Programs such as “The Apprentice” which is now screened in over 20 countries seems to promote and reward such behaviour. The series started out in the US being billed as “The Ultimate Job Interview” with more than a dozen career minded hopefuls competing for the prospect of a $250k job to run one of Donald Trump’s companies.
The show has become associated with the catchphrase “you’re fired” and seems to celebrate disagreements, disputes and dismissals on the way to selecting the eventual winner. It’s interesting to note that the legacy of the show seems in some cases to have been most successful for the candidates that didn’t win the contest.
I have viewed the UK series with Sir Alan Sugar setting tasks for the eager participants to embrace with enthusiasm, for them to appoint a “Project Manager” to guide them rather as the blind leading the blind it seemed sometimes. Much was made during the show of interpersonal conflict and sadly there seems to have been more audience appeal for contestants undermining each other rather than getting to know each other and working together.
Inexperienced leaders are quick to lead before knowing anything about the people they intend to lead. But mature leaders listen, learn, and then lead.
~ John Maxwell
One of the underlying thoughts in popular culture often appears to support the scarcity mindset that life is like a pie; there is only so much to go round, and that if I allow you to get some then I’ll miss out. If I am going to win, someone else has to lose. However, there is another way. It doesn’t have to be like that.
The bottom line in leadership isn’t how far we advance ourselves, but how far we advance others.
~ John Maxwell
Leaders with an abundance mentality and approach to their work focus instead on possibilities. They are more interested in what could be, than what was; in what they want to do, rather than on what’s reasonable or comfortable.
One of the key aspects of the mindset that you want to manage is abundance- versus scarcity-based thinking. Understanding the differences between the two and adopting an abundance-based leadership mentality will help you, those around you and your company grow.
~ Christopher Hawker,
(Guest writer for entrepreneur.com)
A great example of this abundance mindset is found in a company that invests in its employees and positively encourages them to “own their own self-development”.
The first time I remember encountering this model of leadership was back in the 1980s while working for a large mainframe Computer company where staff were actively encouraged to attend courses and had an annual “training course allowance” to spend. I spent my first allocation on a course entitled “Leadership for Business Achievement”, and around the same time, I completed courses on Quality Management practices by JM Juran and Philip Crosby. Juran wrote about the “Cost of Quality” based on his experiences working with the Japanese after the end of World War 2 addressing the “vital few” and the “trivial many”, and Crosby focussed on his “Zero Defects” philosophy. In their day these were initiatives that were crucial to the success of many large organisations, some of whom had a narrow escape from bankruptcy in an increasingly competitive world.
More recently I have seen examples of great leadership displayed by several notable Christian organisations including Life.Church.
Pastor Craig Groeschel leads Life.Church, which gives away a wealth of material online for others to use totally for free including the very popular YouVersion Bible app which currently boasts over 250 Million downloads! The corporate culture is one where staff are positively encouraged to invest in themselves and to develop their leadership capacity to it’s utmost, following the principle that “everything rises and falls on leadership”, and this can be seen in among other things the monthly Leadership Podcast (check out https://www.life.church/leadershippodcast/).
Motives affect the reason we do the things we do and reflect our values, and they influence the people we interact with. So the question we have to know the answer to in our lives and in our leadership is “do motives matter?”. Does it matter how we treat our colleagues and co-workers, or even how we talk about our competitors? Is it a “dog eat dog world” or do we collaborate for increased success?
“The handshake of the host affects the taste of the roast.”
~ Benjamin Franklin.
About Roger Fairhead
Roger is a Leadership specialist and uses the PRIZE Winning Leadership model to help leaders improve their effectiveness and that of their teams, through remote and on-site delivery of keynotes, group training events and individual coaching sessions.
He is the author of several books including "PRIZE Winning Leadership" and “Personal Productivity Planner”, a Chartered Engineer, a Fellow of the Institute of Leadership and Management and a Director of the Global Leadership Network UK with extensive experience in Project Management and Sales.
“He is articulate, tracks complex issues with ease and has an incredible gift for raising pearls of wisdom out of the murky depths of people and process.” His passion is to help people to learn effective leadership skills to lead their teams to capitalize on their strengths and passions to realize their dreams.
Roger also invests into the dreams of families in the world’s underserved communities to offer them small loans that empower them to invest in their future, to provide for their families and give back to their communities.