When picking who will be on your team how important is it to consider team dynamics? Let’s see…
On one of my favorite shows, Project Runway Season 14 Episode 5 illustrates a perfect example. Project Runway is a reality TV show putting up and coming fashion designers/amateurs/wanna-bees to the test. The season begins with 16 designers and at each episode someone wins and someone goes home. Winners then are eligible for the final challenge of presenting at Fashion Week and then one designer is picked as the season’s winner.
This particular episode was a team challenge where 12 designers were divided into two teams. The first person chosen as team captain was the person who had won the last challenge and her name is Candice. She won the previous challenge working in a duo with another designer named Ashley. Ashley was certain that because of their dynamics and because she had one several challenges before and then their ability to win together that she would be picked immediately. She was not picked at all. She was the very last person picked. Were any of these team captains picking for talent and strengths? It didn’t seem like Candice was at all. The very first person she picked was a designer that she…hear me loud and clear…felt sorry for. Since Ashley was the last person, and Candice was the last person to pick, it appeared Candice had to pick Ashley. So Ashley was then on this team. Her energy and inspiration were sucked right out of her because of this whole team dynamic. The team appeared picked because of friendships versus talent and emotionally versus strategically. The dynamic was established when Candice picked a weaker designer that she FELT SORRY FOR. Her strong team members were influenced by the confusion and indecisiveness of the weaker designer picked first by their team captian. They almost worked down to her expectations for herself. Her expectations on herself were riddled with insecurity and indecisiveness and the team as a result was not cohesive and never on the same page. Unfortunately, Candice lost the respect and ultimate leadership (influence) over her team because of her decision to back a weaker designer. Consequently Candice’s team lost and this weak designer picked first by Candice was picked to go home by the judges.
The leadership lessons are profound in this scenario and the most important one in my book is that the smallest decision can make the biggest impact on your team dynamics and ultimately your entire organization.