Group observed: The Guys’ group
The group consists of 8 guys of different backgrounds from the United Kingdom, whose task is to make and sell sausages. They take part in a TV competition, they are competing against the other group that consists of girls only. However the assignment to the groups changes for every episode. After each episode, one person from the loser’s group is “fired” and has to leave the program. In this particular episode the group has to operate in three environments:
- London’s meat market
- Sausage factory
- Market, where they finally sell the sausages.
- Dan Harris (Sales Director)
We all agree that Dan Harris is a terrible team leader. Some of us pointed out that he was rude and abrupt, and others pointed out that he had an aggressive style of leadership. One of us mentioned that he was very unpleasant to work with and always gave destructive criticism. While some mentioned his Theory X management style. Apart from these, Dan was too self-confident that he never took suggestions from his team members and even in front of Lord Alan Sugar, he sit casually which showed little respect to others. Dan sees himself as an entrepreneur though he once failed the business and lost 2.5 million. Generally speaking, we have little different opinion towards Dan except that one group member thinks that he acted nervous in the show.
- Alex Epstein (Unemployed Head of Communications)
One of our team members mentioned what the assistant of Sugar said that ‘He just stood there cooking sausages!’, judging him not doing much and failing to mix the sausages well. However, another member said he was protecting himself as opposed to attacking the others, which means he was not aggressive. Other impression on him is that he was not outspoken and not proactive. Most of these impressions have connection with each other, but they are not highly similar. These impressions differ from his personality and working style.
- Chris Bates (Investment Banker)
One pointed out that he was easy-going, while some other thought he was brave. These two impressions are not similar or connected, also not paradoxical either. They differ from that one is due to the way how he treat others, the other is because of what he did during the work and how he communicated with the leader.
- Jamie Lester (Overseas Property Developer)
One of us thought he is friendly, outspoken, however, he was also considered extroverted, constructive and criticism. Besides, he was calm.
Our impressions on him are quite similar, which we all agree he is a kind person.
- Raleigh Addington (Unemployed graduate)
He is young and also a kind person, which we all agree by observing his sacrificing for a job that nobody else volunteered to do. However, we have different impressions on his personality, some thinks he is shy some do not.
- Shibby Robati (Surgeon & Business Owner)
One member said he seemed to be intelligent and professional, other believes he is communicative and rational. Also, one other member regards him a good negotiator or salesman. The similarity of our impression is that he is believed to be good at selling and communicating. The impressions differ from what aspect we observed him, either from his career or from his work performance.
- Stuart Baggs (Telecoms Entrepreneur)
We have lots of comments on him, such as egocentric accounting, over confident, arrogant, aggressive, rude, disrespectful selling style, unable to accept criticism. They are mostly negative impressions but differ from personality, the way he solving problems and the attitude towards people.
- Christopher Farrell (Mortgage Broker)
Some thinks he is shy, while some even think his performance was as if he were not a member of the team. There is no difference of impression on him because we could not see him a lot.
The members of our group used the following evidences to justify their impressions:
- Quotes ( Linwei gave an example of Dan saying “ I will lead you will do the job”)
- Different situations ( Linwei gave an example of guys hugging and sharing happiness after they successfully sold the rest of the sausages in the Restaurant )
- Atmosphere ( Sacha noticed that the atmosphere was not very friendly)
- Communication ( Ana stressed that the way they solved the problem was not a discussion but rather the argument)
- Relations within the group ( Ana stressed the situation when Chris Bates argued with Dan about the target market )
- Body language
- Comparison of team members ( Adam said “ Raleigh is introversive comparing to the others”)
The team leader Dan Harris has a stereotypical Type A personality. He was “aggressively involved in a chronic, incessant struggle to achieve more and more in less and less time” . Dan Harris made poor decisions, very quickly, which ultimately lost them the challenge against the female team. The entire challenge was badly planned and poorly managed, mainly due Dan Harris’ stereotypical personality and style of leadership. The team leader in the group would also be considered a bit of a narcissist because he was extremely arrogant. An example of his arrogance was when he was sat slouching in his chair across from Lord Alan Sugar in the boardroom, Lord Alan Sugar had to tell him to “sit up conventionally” as sitting in that manner is extremely rude. Dan Harris also has a sense of entitlement and was talking down to other members in the group as if he was better than them, which also suggests he has a narcissistic character .
There was also age discrimination in the team, Raleigh Addington, who is one of the youngest members of the team seemed to not be given any important tasks to do due to his age and inexperience.
Friendman, M. and Roseman, R. H., 1974. Type A Behaviour and your Heart , New York: Alfred A. Knopf, p. 84
Campbell, W. K. and C. A. Foster, C. A., 2002. Narcissism and commitment in romantic relationships: an investment model analysis, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 28, 4, pp. 484-95.
The strengths of the group are that they are all highly motivated, they all had a common goal and seemed highly motivated to achieve it. They were also fast at decision making, which allowed them to spend more time on the on the task itself, i.e. making the sausages and selling. The diversity is also a strength in the team, although the team was only male, it consisted of individuals from various different age groups, race, and ethnicity. The mixed specialism’s of the individual members is also a strength, which gave them the knowledge to collectively complete tasks successfully.
A weakness of the group was the autocratic leadership style of the leader, however this can also be seen as strength in the sense that decisions were being made faster. However, in this case it was a weakness. There was also poor communication between the members, at times certain members didn’t have a clue on what needs to be done. Due to the team leaders authoritarian style of leadership, there was little input from other members, all the ideas were coming from one person who didn’t allow others to have a say. The task was generally poorly managed by the team leader and extremely disorganized, Jamie Lester in the group said the leader was “embarrassing”. Another weakness was that the leader poorly delegated tasks to his subordinates; many of the team members didn’t know what to do.
a) The observed group had many weaknesses of which we identified the style of leadership to be the strongest. Dan Harris, the leader of the group, decided to take upon a leadership style very much like a Theory X manager. Raleigh Addington, a member of the team, even mentioned in the board meeting that he was not able to perform successfully because ‘Dan kept looking over (his) shoulder’. Dan’s leadership style was very much authoritarian leaving little space for suggestions, advice and let alone criticism. He encouraged an aggressive way of communication in the group and was very rude and abrupt with the team members leaving them with nothing but destructive criticism.
This way of leadership had a great impact on the team as poor communication lines resulted making the team extremely unorganized and unstructured. Furthermore, the motivation amongst the team members rapidly decreased. Although the individual motivation persisted, the motivation of the team as a whole decreased because of the lack of unison and aggressive approach of the leader. Arguments and conflicts rose as a result of the one way communication; whatever Dan Harris said was to be done, as he made clear at the very beginning of the episode where he makes the following remark: ‘I’ll lead the team, you do the work’.
Poor communication also resulted in a lack of close or friendly relationship amongst the members of the team. Their relationship remained strictly task-related with no team spirit.
Generally, the style of leadership has a great impact on a team and its members. Motivation can be encouraged or discouraged, team values can be built or destroyed and the success of the team can be influenced. In this case, the leadership style of Dan Harris was the biggest weakness of the team as it is the scapegoat for most of the team’s problems in this episode, as mentioned above.
b) Some of the strategies that we brainstormed are listed below:
- Change in leader or leadership style. The leader should either adapt a style that accommodates the members of the team or be replaced
- Different voting strategy
- Better planning
- Improved organization
- More efficient negotiation and communication within the group
- Better delegation of tasks. In the episode we observed that when one some of the team members were at the market persistently attempting to sell the sausages, the other part of the team was not doing anything at all.
- Leader should utilize the strengths of individual members to the team’s advantage and not ignore them.
c) After having discussed each of the strategies and their appropriateness we have decided that the most efficient strategy would be a change in leader. Dan Harris’ approach was authoritarian, aggressive, rude, irrational, arrogant and abrupt. After having analyzed the weaknesses and strengths we can now tell that essentially the source of all weaknesses and further problems that the team encountered can be tracked back to the leader. It was because of Dan Harris’ one-way communication that poor communication resulted in the team and the mix of powder for the sausages was not done correctly nor the selling. It was because of Dan Harris’ abrupt and quick decision making process that they had not ‘identified a specific target market’ as mentioned by one of the team members. It was because of Dan Harris’ aggressiveness and hostile spirit that conflicts arose and the team members did not listen to each other.
As a leader, one of the important factors is to create unison within the team members so that they feel as one and they can strive to achieve their common goal. Dan Harris did not achieve to succeed in this. As last, Alan Sugar himself mentions that ‘the reason the team failed was because of the leader’ as it was his responsibility.
Douglas McGregor’s X theory management suggests that managers believe that workers are not motivated and must be forced and rigidly controlled to work and should not be delegated any responsibility. Theory X managers watch their employees closely and tells them what and how to perform their task.