Make-Or-Break Leadership Lessons From The Apprentice

Sure, it's "reality" TV. But smart viewers of NBC's hit show learned important rules of business success. Here are four, for starters.

Who got it right: Stallworth’s approach was in contrast to Jackson’s, whose behavior was consistent in victory and defeat. He was positive, upbeat, and supportive of his teammates. When Jackson made criticisms, he was direct and to the point, limiting his comments to assessments of performance, not personal attacks.

Most importantly, Jackson never played the victim. When he failed, he held himself accountable, resisting invitations to blame others when facing Trump in the boardroom. While confident in his evaluation of a given situation, he remained open to the idea that he could be wrong, and that others, even a subordinate, could be right. As a result, even after crushing defeats as project leader, Jackson was still embraced as a team member by his fellow would-be apprentices, and he never lost the respect of Trump and his lieutenants. Is it any surprise that Jackson was able to consistently avoid the ax?

Conclusion: The best leaders make people want to be around them. How? By being as quick with compliments as they are with criticisms. They focus on performance and not personalities, and realize they can’t succeed without the support of colleagues, customers, and clients–even those they don’t like, or those who don’t like them.

The best leaders don’t talk about it–they are about it. Those who followed these precepts experienced consistent success on The Apprentice. Those who violated them were doomed to failure–and an elevator ride to the street.

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