So last night was the ‘gallery’ episode, giving the Apprentice candidates the opportunity to buy and sell urban art. Laura was fired, which is pretty much all there is to say about her performance – last night she seemed uncertain, uninvolved and lacking any sense of the enthusiasm we saw earlier in the series.
No, the real focus of the episode – from a psychological perspective – was Tom, the picture-portrait of a confident-arrogant personality.
What defines the confident-arrogant leader? They take control, they enjoy being in charge, they have strong self-belief and they are calm under pressure. People often report that they enjoy working with confident-arrogant types as they bring focus, edge, authority and decisiveness. Indeed, the response to Lord Sugar’s standard opening question “was ‘ee a good team leader?” was a unanimous “yes Lord Sugar”.
But under pressure, confident leaders have a darker side. The strong self-belief can become an arrogant disregard of risk. Their clear focus can become blinkered decision-making. Their calm outlook can become an irrational determination to prove themselves. And their confidence can become an inability to listen to others.
We saw all of these during the brief meeting with the artist, ‘Pure Evil’, as Tom pushed his own knowledge and expertise, talking at the artist rather than trying to understand him and engage with him. When rejected, Tom’s emotion and shock were visible, revealing that he had never – at any stage – contemplated that the artist would opt for another team. And, with no ‘plan B’, he opted for an emotional high-risk strategy, rather than listen to his team and leave his own disappointment to one side. It was like watching someone lose their first bet on a roulette table and then stick everything on green zero.
Tom survived of course, because of his confidence. And because he fits perfectly with Lord Sugar’s model of a start-up entrepreneur: unshakeable self-belief; a readiness to take impulsive risks; and an inability to empathise with people.
Elsewhere, Adam played the naive art critic, claiming to have no opinion on art yet nonetheless expressing plenty of opinions on art. It worked, to a degree, as Adam connected with others effectively and sold to punters with a likeable and genuine impact. His approach, though, is of limited value as a leader and we’ll need to see more conviction and authority if he is to make it through to the final rounds.
On the other team, Gabrielle used her artistic background and personal skills to connect well with the artists and, critically, win the endorsement of Pure Evil. She brought balance and imagination to her team and now rightly heads the league table. Ricky and Nick showed the usual level of energy, tenacity and task focus to leave them well positioned mid-table. And Jenna, barely present in this episode, now resides firmly at the foot of the table. She will need to impress in the ‘wine tasting’ episode or risk being out of the picture entirely.
Stuart Duff is the head of development at Pearn Kandola.
|The Apprentice League week 8|
|Duane (fired week 5)||15|
|Laura (fired week 8)||9|
|Katie (fired week 6)||9|
|Azhar – (fired week 7)||8|
|Jane (fired week 4)||5|
|Bilyana (fired week 1)||2|
|Michael (fired week 3)||0|
|Maria (fired week 2)||0|