Congratulations to Ricky Martin for his victory in the Apprentice. Below I pick out some of the reasons he won as well as some other lessons from the series.
Getting the job done is only one factor in being a good leader
We have seen a variety of leadership styles this series: from dictatorial to consultative; extroverted to introverted; laissez-faire to micromanaging. However, to be successful, a leader needs to display skills in three critical areas – managing people, getting the job done and being able to think broadly.
In the Apprentice the focus is most definitely on getting the job done, how objectives are achieved is of secondary importance. Yet, thought leadership and people leadership skills are just as crucial for everyone who aspires to lead.
Ricky developed as the most rounded leader: he was focused, delegated well and invariably succeeded in understanding what any given task was about.
Responses to mistakes tell us more about potential
In the Apprentice we get to watch others make the most incredible howlers. But we all make mistakes and the way people respond to them can tell us a lot about both their resilience and their potential. Resilience is essentially about how people recover from setbacks. The most resilient people use available resources to help them recover which will include: the way they make sense of what happened; using other people to help provide support; and, finding ways to develop their skills.
An important part of the recovery process of course is feedback. This can be obtained from others but we should also look to give ourselves feedback too. The more honest the feedback and the more willing we are to attend to it the more we develop. One of the characteristics of Apprentice candidates is that they are slow learners – not because they are thick but because they find it so difficult to take on board any criticism.
Ricky deserved to win because he learnt as he progressed through the tasks. At first he was bellicose and belligerent but adapted and in the end was amongst the most thoughtful. In that respect, he emerged in the mid-series as the person with the most potential
Male bias with macho behaviours increasingly valued
The emphasis in this series has shifted from the tasks to the boardroom. This may have increased the dramatic tension but it also heightens the aggression levels. In other words, macho behaviour is rewarded and collaboration is not only downgraded but it isn’t valued much at all. It’s an orthodox, traditional view of leadership that plays to stereotypically male characteristics. In the eight series of the show men have won five times but interestingly they have on average stayed with Lord Sugar for longer. (The first female winner, Michelle Dewbury, didn’t last too long and Stella English is suing for unfair dismissal).
The quality of the candidates went down
This year the candidates were the lowest scoring of any of the series. This could be partially due to the fact that less time was spent showing us the candidates doing things. By my rough calculations between 5-10 minutes more per episode was spent in the boardroom, which over the course of an entire series represented one to two episodes. Even taking that into account, we are still left with a deficit to explain. The candidates are increasingly being selected for their personalities and of course their business proposals and not for their abilities. Dragons’ Den would have taken no more than three episodes to have reached a conclusion and not 12.
It’s time to bring the curtain down
The Apprentice must be the only place left on the planet where a mobile phone is only used for making calls. In the time warp in which the show exists the internet hasn’t been invented, people still use phone books and one can only buy and sell in shops. A more realistic and inventive format would allow the candidates to utilise all of the tools available to us today instead of transporting us back to the 60s. Whilst it is pleasing for us to have picked Ricky out as a potential winner, the show has run out of steam and needs to be shown to the taxi.