Leadership Lessons from The Bachelor(ette)
July 10, 2017
Yes, you read the title right – “Leadership Lessons from the Bachelor(ette).”
I know it sounds unconventional, but leadership can be unconventional at times. Any situation, experience, or interaction provides an opportunity for learning, and this franchise is no different. Let’s have a little fun and take a look at some of the major tenets of the show to see how they might offer insight into leadership principles.
In its twenty-first season, The Bachelor(ette) (circa 2002; herein referred to as “the show”) places a single person among a group of potential wives or husbands. As the season progresses, candidates are subjected to a host of activities, such as public outings, group dates, 1:1 time and more. Weekly elimination “ceremonies” help whittle down the field until only one candidate remains, with the hope of an engagement and subsequent wedding as the ultimate “prize.” Throughout the seasons, the results have been widely panned, with very few successful relationships emerging from the show.
By now you’re surely asking “what leadership lessons can we take from this silly, relationship-seeking reality TV show?” Let’s look at a few that come to mind:
The star of the show makes grand use of 1:1 time. But the manner it’s employed should be noted and avoided – public space, lots of distractions, minimal quality time, it’s all there. Your 1:1 time with employees should be of the highest quality. Find a comfortable, private space to have the discussion.
Often times, an office doesn’t provide sufficiently quiet space to have important career discussions. Take a walk – have an active 1:1 meeting. During the meeting, ensure no distractions can interfere. Ensure the other team members know not to disturb you during your sessions. And spend enough time with your employee to make it worthwhile. Drive-by meetings can leave many topics or concerns unaddressed.
Stepping out of your comfort zone
Brainstorming, team-building events, and active workshops can help you and your team learn more about each other and provide you new insights into how your employees may step up (or step out) under pressure.
One aspect of the show that can be valuable is the format where contestants are subjected to an assortment of unfamiliar activities. This allows the star of the show to observe how they act in uncomfortable situations. In your own work teams, consider some new ways of getting people together to address key issues. Brainstorming, team-building events, and active workshops can help you and your team learn more about each other and provide you new insights into how your employees may step up (or step out) under pressure.
Contestants on the show are often compromising their own personal integrity in favor of becoming a finalist, or better yet, becoming the next Bachelor(ette). Drinking, lying, gossip, and overall poor behavior is the norm. The show is broadcast live to millions of people – none of what is seen can easily be unseen.
From a leadership perspective, know that you are always being watched and measured. A team will take on the integrity characteristics of its leader. Are you maintaining appropriate leader-employee relationships? Are you holding your team accountable to acceptable norms of social behavior, in and out of the office (at team events)? What you do and how you act as a leader also can’t be unseen – consider the standards you want to model, and let your team know what is expected of them in kind.
I know… your employees aren’t contestants on a reality TV show, but there are parallels to the real-life environment they are in. Your leadership style and role modeling can go a long way to ensuring a high-performing team, and to providing an exceptional employee experience to all members of your team.
So I have to ask: “Readers – will you accept this prose?”
This post is from our CXO Blog series, written by Jeff Zirker, our Chief Experience Officer (CXO). See the rest of his collection here.
About the Author:
Jeff Zirker started with TSG in 2015 after more than 22 years with a leading U.S. technology company. His passion for people has led to the implementation of new processes and programs across the company designed to enhance customer experience. No stranger to adventure, Jeff once spent two weeks on an uninhabited Hawaiian island.
Culture and Experience, CXO Series