Monday, April 16, 2007

Survivor: Reality or Not?

While at Starbucks yesterday afternoon, I was reading The Leadership Challenge. Under the heading of "Facilitate Positive Interdependence", the authors chose an interesting counterexample: the hit reality TV show Survivor. While the "real world" requires teamwork and egoless contribution from each person, Survivor models the exact opposite of this. You may see people form "alliances" and "work together", but it is for the sole purpose of furthering their individual odds of being the winner.

In order to have a truly functional team (and ultimately be successful), individual goals must be in line with the team/department/company goals, or they must be yielded. While I'm sure you can find examples of selfish people who achieved great things, I would contend that they have done so in spite of their dysfunction.

Going back to my favorite source of examples, let's consider the LA Lakers. They won three championships when Shaq and Kobe were together on the team. However, Kobe didn't like all of the attention that was going to Shaq, and Shaq got traded to Miami a couple of years ago. Since then, Miami has gone on to win their own championship while the Lakers have been mired in mediocrity. Kobe regularly scores 40+ points a night, but his team is in the lower seeds for the playoffs right now and primed for an early exit. Shaq on the other hand has deflected the spotlight to rising star Dwayne Wade. The attitudes and results speak for themselves.

Until next time...

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