Management, Dragons and Apprentices – RealityTV

It is no surprise that management and entrepreneurship ‘Reality’ TV (think ‘The Apprentice’ and ‘Dragon’s Den’) is so dark. Good people being fired on the strength of their performance on one task; entrepreneurs being humiliated by ‘Dragons’ because they are not experts in their product or service AND in how it should be marketed AND in the financial history and planned future of their cherished business.

The truth is that programme makers are simply not able to make good management and entrepreneurship ‘dramatic’ enough to get win viewing figures. So instead they focus on the dark dramas that so many of us love to watch unfold.

What impact do these programmes have on our perception of what entrepreneurship and management are as professions? If viewers believe that ‘Reality TV’ portrays reality then it is little wonder that neither are seen as ‘‘careers’ of choice for many and that that levels of entrepreneurship remain stubbornly low.

Exhortations such as ‘we will work until we bleed and batter the hell out of everyone else’ are hardly a clarion call for effective recruitment.

In my day to day work I regularly meet managers who are at their happiest when they are dealing with a crisis, damping down a fire, or sacking underperforming staff – because they really believe that this is what good managers do to make things better – a belief that may be fuelled, at least in part, by ‘Reality TV’. The impact that they have on organisational culture and climate is disproportionate.

The truth is that good management, progressive management, is about the day to day development of professional working relationships.

    • It is about coaching and developing people so that they contribute more fully at work.

    • It is about giving and receiving feedback (NOT ‘You’re a shambles! You’re fired!’).

    • It is about developing and sharing values that can lead to sustainable success.

    • It is about managing underperformance in a way that is rigorous and caring, but not ruthless.

And the same is true for entrepreneurship.

Both are about building effective teams, where individuals can express their unique personality, skills and traits in support of a team endeavour. But this is a slow, beautiful, human and creative process – more like gardening – than the high drama of the Reality TV shows.

This is the work of the Progressive Manager.

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