Divas, taskmasters and slackers

Mitchell Haaseth/NBC

Last night I watched the first episode of this season’s Celebrity Apprentice. I don’t normally watch it, mostly because I don’t watch a lot of TV, but I was not feeling well so I decided to turn it on.

The show is a perfect microcosm of a company. It’s a group of disparate people trying to work together to achieve a goal. No surprise, there were many examples of good and bad etiquette.

In this episode, the teams were split between men and women. They were given the task of selling pizza, and the team that made the most money would win the challenge and receive a nice donation to the team leader’s favorite charity.

Richard Hatch, winner of Survivor Borneo, quickly volunteered to lead the team of men called “Backbone”. Star Jones, former co-host of The View, was persuaded to be team leader by the group of women called “A.S.A.P”.

Kudos go to Richard for offering to take the leadership role right away. Being team leader puts you in a vulnerable position. If your team doesn’t like your leadership style or you lose the challenge, you more easily risk being fired then someone who is able to stay under the radar. But, if you win the challenge and you were a good leader, the payoff can be huge. This is true in the business world. Leaders are under a lot of scrutiny. As they say, it’s lonely at the top. But a good leader is worth his or her weight in gold.

However, Richard proved to be an abrasive and controlling leader. He barked orders and several times he told David Cassidy, actor, singer and songwriter, to stop interrupting him and physically pushed him out of the way. While it’s important for a leader to be strong and decisive, it is never OK to physically push someone.

Also, a good leader allows his or her staff to have input. No leader can have all of the answers, and allowing your staff to provide feedback ensures they have buy-in on a decision. There will be times when a quick decision needs to be made and no time for input, but in the pizza selling project Richard would have been better served by allowing his team to have a say.

Star was a more inclusive leader. She listened to her team, yet also was decisive when she needed to be. However, she was quick to point fingers in the boardroom with Donald Trump when her delivery team didn’t make it to one of the deliveries that promised a very large donation. Star should have taken responsibility for not having a better grasp of the delivery situation. As a leader, we have to assume responsibility for our team good and bad. The buck truly does stop at the top as we recently witnessed with the firing of Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson for the waste and misuse of school funds overseen by a district manager.

A few more good and bad etiquette examples:

Silence that phone. In the boardroom, Gary Busey’s cell phone rang. Trump was angry and mocked, “you’re fired” to Gary. As I’ve said many times, unless you’re waiting for a kidney, turn your phone or ringer off anytime you meet with others, especially when you’re meeting with someone who is determining your fate.

Don’t ask, don’t tell. Trump asked Gary about his red eye, which, it turns out, is due to Gary’s cancer. How awkward that was for both Gary and the Donald. Never ask someone about an affliction or something personal, the answer may not be fun.

Poise and positivity win the day. Model Nikki Taylor was responsible for making the pizzas. Not an easy job with the large number of customer orders pouring in, especially as a newbie. But Nikki was grace under fire and cooked the best tasting pizza, according to chef Curtis Stone.

Remember some of these tips and hopefully you’ll never have to hear the words “you’re fired!”

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Arden Clise is founder and president of Clise Etiquette. Her love for business etiquette began in previous jobs when she was frequently asked for etiquette, public speaking and business attire advice by executives and board members. The passion for etiquette took hold and compelled Arden to start a consulting business to help others. Read more >>

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