All entries for May 2011

May 28, 2011

From watching The Apprentice, Series 7, Episode 4

I am not a big fan of the idea of this programme but I am a loyal audience because I find useful things to learn from it.

The girl who was fired was the project manager for the losing team in this task. At the first minutes of the boardroom time, all of her team agreed that she was a good team leader. The reason for it was she always made decisions as a team, a democratic approach. Even when she knew they lost, she said everyone in the team should be responsible for it. She was said to struggle so hard to make a decision on her feet and no leadership qualities. She was fired because of her indecisiveness. The last words of Karen with Lord Sugar was: 'If you go to business with her, you would have to make all the decisions.'From this example, I am a bit skeptical about democratic approach. I think it is so easy for the leaders to get away with their responsibility when they use democratic approach to make decision. If the leaders dare to push their decision, they possibly make their influence over the team. Otherwise, their role looks to me like being there just to host the voting process. Making decision is a privilege of the leader and also an opportunity for them to make people look and work toward the same direction. In cases when members have more expertise than the leader, democratic might be a good choice. If it is not, everyone has different opinions and different ways of doing the task so the democracy takes place, in my view, just for the sack of making everyone happy that their opinions are taken. In effect, the democratic way might cancel their attitudes and passion. Jumping in and making the decision might show more of their influence and passion.In more specific, if the leader makes the decision, it is apparently that he/she got a chance to persuade their members, whose opinions are different. Therefore, the team would follow because of reasons presented and because the leader believes in it (the influence of a leader). On the other hand, at the end of a democratic decision, it is usually no explaining happens. Just before voting, people are usually talking as much as they can to pull out their ideas, after realising more people have different views, they have no more chance to listen. For those who are in the minority, apparently, the reason they have to give up their ideas is there are more people do not aggreeing with them. Although their ideas are taken, their attitudes and feeling are not respected or appreciated. If the leader in the majority and he/she tries to explain after voting, it sounds like because he/she is the leader, they would have to follow anyway. Vice versa, I think the leader needs to confirm success factors from the chosen voters. If it is the case, I suppose there are more expertise in the team in which the leader should have been aware since the beginning stage and have given more credit to those peoplem and even the expertise should be filtered or justified to prove its It comes to a neccesary prerequisite process beforehand which is skill-accessment. I think it is important for the leader to go through this so he/she might know where his/her position to lead, to push or to pull. At the end, it might depend on different types of decision but I would like to see a decision made by the quality rather than the quantity of the approval. Having said that, I'm still swimming in thinking about it, not very sure. There must be cases when democracy works best, just can'e be generalized.By talking about decision-making, from this real case, I do not see much can be used from the decision-making techniques, from simple to complex ones. They seem to me not very applicable on the operational level. 

In summary, this episode of The Apprentice gives me thoughts on the democratic approach from a leadership point of view. However, more discussion and learning need to be carried on, following the conditions where this approach should or should not be used.

May 2011

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