Here we go again, another season of B-list celebs on The Apprentice. I love the show, but personally would rather see it switch back once in a while to the old ways with real business folks at the helm. Aside from my feelings of the show, we need to look at it for what it really is. The Celebrity Apprentice is an annual case study of culture, leadership and teamwork in the work place. Although the majority of people who appear on the Apprentice are not business professionals, we can still learn a lot about leadership and teamwork. Here are a few lessons we can learn from The Apprentice:
1. Accountability! Take responsibility for your actions!! If you’ve watched the show you probably have seen people blaming others for their mistakes and even some being fired for the mistakes of others. Here’s the thing, if you make a mistake, be honest and vow to fix the problem. Your boss and co-workers will respect you more for your honesty rather than being a weasel.
2. Check your personal problems and attitude at the door. Everyone has problems, but that is no reason to let it affect you at work with how you treat other employees or how you complete your work. There were a few moments where this occurred on the show, but this does happen in real life quite often though. People don’t want to deal with your issues while doing important work nor do they want to work on a team with someone who is overly emotional about their personal problems. More importantly, if you have a problem with a co-worker outside of work, this rule seriously comes into play. You need to put aside issues in order for things to get done. Be professional.
3. As a leader, be open to your co-workers ideas. Sometimes your ideas are not always be the best ones and sometimes you may not have any at all. Watching The Apprentice, I’ve noticed that most ideas are created by the project manager. There are few things that feel as awesome as when your idea is used at work. Get your team involved and ask for everyone’s opinion. People are often too shy to bring up ideas because of the fear of being shut down in front of everyone. The more upfront everyone is, the less stress people will feel about offering ideas and opinions. Make people feel comfortable and you will often get their best efforts.
4. Don’t take criticism personal. I’ve noticed that many people have a hard time dealing with this. I am very comfortable giving criticism as well as receiving it because I know it will help me in the long run. The objective is not to take shots at people and be constructive when giving criticism. As seen on The Apprentice, every piece of criticism is taken personally, and rightfully so because they are low blow shots. Hopefully, when co-workers and management are giving you constructive criticism, it’s for your own good. Know that they are only trying to help. If you don’t, work will be very uncomfortable for you.
5. Loyalty is important both to your company and your co-workers. In the most recent episode of The Apprentice, we saw that Lou Ferrigno bailed on his team and chose the other team’s product as the superior product. This will do nothing but alienate the people around you. Talking negative about your company and its employees will do nothing good for you either. Another problem with loyalty people have is throwing others under the bus. This is similar to the first lesson, where accountability comes into play or sometimes you need to jump on the grenade, for whatever reason.
6. Petty problems need to be left out of the boardroom. There’s a time and place to deal with problems you have with people, but not in front of management or in meetings. When the contestants get to the boardroom in every episode of The Apprentice, we see that the real problems people are dealing with are finally brought to attention. They seem to look for sympathy from Trump, but get none, rightfully so. Like always, if there is a problem you need to solve it in a civil manner. This is similar to the second one above, but overall you just need to be professional.
7. Leadership! Very few people have been good leaders while on The Apprentice. Every week all we see is people complaining about leadership and how crappy other people are at their job. Both on the show and in real life, management needs to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of their employees. They need to utilize the strengths of each person so the team is working strong on all cylinders towards the same goal. Sometimes, people are not the best self-starters and they need a helping hand. Just like on the show, you need to create responsibilities for people to accomplish along with deadlines to make sure the work is moving along smoothly. Taking accountability for your role as manager is important as well and sometimes you’ll need to dive on the grenade for your team.
8. If you don’t like the idea being used, speak up! Talking behind the back of management or another employee isn’t good and creates a divide. If there is an issue, grow a pair and bring it up so it can be solved. The best ideas are often never heard because people are too shy and timid to bring them up or plead their case. This is similar to lesson 3. This is very evident on The Apprentice where ideas are created by the project manager and team members mumble about how much they dislike the idea, but everyone fails to speak up. It’s hard to give 100% effort in your work if you don’t believe the what you are working on is a good idea. Even if your idea isn’t good enough every time you bring it up, at least you’re trying and management will certainly take notice.
9. Teamwork. Sometimes people try to do all the work or feel others can’t do their job well, in their own opinion, and try to do their work as well. You’re a team, you work together. Often times you’re given a specific job, but it’s not a bad thing to offer a certain expertise or help others, but don’t try to do people’s jobs for them. Aubrey O’Day is a classic example. She seems to enjoy being the center of attention and also tries to take the lead, even when she isn’t the project manager. This alienates others and makes you look like a bad team player. Do your job, work together, offer help and live in harmony.
10. Don’t step on the toes of management, especially in front of their boss or your co-workers. I accidentally learned this the hard way and was certainly yelled at for it. We see this on The Apprentice every week. Once in the board room, some players undermine the project manager by calling them out to Donald Trump. Like always, if there is a problem, take care of it in private with the person involved. Again, Aubrey O’Day is guilty of this, not just in the boardroom, but working with the team as well. She tries to do things her way as well as trying to takeover as leader. Offer ideas, more efficient methods and understand there is a manager in place, which is not always you.
There are plenty of things to take away from The Apprentice, but these are a few I thought were important to learn from. Whether you agree or disagree, tell me what you think!