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Monday, 18 July 2011

The Alternative Apprentice – Lordship or Leadership?

The Apprentice reality TV show is a classic of its genre, due in no small part to public fascination with the gratuitous humiliations doled out to hapless, servile, “because I’m worth it” participants by the bizarrely charmless Lord Sugar. However, to portray it in any way as a model of how to train young executives in business leadership is a real stretch. Far too much Lordship and not enough Leadership.

Lord Sugar struts, snaps, snarls and Lords it over everyone, with little challenge offered to his barbed comments and sometimes doubtful or dated opinions. Despite his Lordship’s undoubted financial success, he simply does not demonstrate the social skills, verbal ability, empathy or charisma required for genuine leadership of intelligent “independent minds” in today’s business world. Why would anyone want to be his learning apprentice?

Say The Apprentice format were reversed, so that losing finalist Jim Eastwood – a young man who, to his cost, was prepared to challenge the lordly genius - was in the Boardroom high-chair asking the hard questions and the surly Alan Sugar given the responsibility of leading a team on a task; how long would it be until his dictatorial inability to lead and get the best from a team was exposed with the words “You’re fired”?

We don’t need to wait for such an episode of the Alternative Apprentice to find out the answer. Rabbie Burns had Lord Sugar sussed out and metaphorically fired over 200 years ago!

Ye see yon birkie ca'd 'a Lord,' 
Wha struts, an' stares, an' a' that? 

Tho' hundreds worship at his word, 
He's but a cuif for a' that. 

For a' that, an' a' that, 
His ribband, star, an' a' that, 

The man o' independent mind, 
He looks an' laughs at a' that.

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