It's a little embarrassing to share my addiction to Big Brother -- the summer reality show on CBS that drops 14 strangers or houseguests into a fake house on a TV set for three months to compete for a $500,000 prize. I could blame my addiction on my husband, but I have to admit I'm hooked. It can be considered mindless entertainment, but believe it or not, Big Brother is loaded with what 'to do' and what 'not to do,' if you want to be a successful leader and win!
I especially love last week's dramatic episode where Rachel, the brilliant chemist from Las Vegas, who looks like an over-cosmetized "girl with big boobs" by her own description, gets evicted. She is a terrific competitor, has won several HOH competitions and is in a showmance with Brendon, who has a PhD in Physics, but who is a high school swim coach (try to figure that one out). Their strategy to win was more like "you and me against the world" and it certainly didn't work.
But I want to focus on Rachel, who I believe had the smarts and drive to win, but her leadership style caused her to be a loser. In my opinion, three of most important characteristics of successful leaders -- and winners -- are communication, collaboration and courage. Rachel failed at all but courage. Her communication style was aggressive and dishonest and she never truly listened to what one person said to her. Her collaboration was limited to her showmance partner. In addition, she was a stereotype of the worst kind of woman leader in the workplace -- the female bully boss. Rachel was against all the women in the house -- pretty much assuming they were all weak players -- and undermining them at every opportunity. She cried when she didn't get her way, and demanded apologies from the women if they showed enthusiasm for their own victories over her (rare as they were).
Rachel pretty much displays all the characteristics of a bully boss -- verbally abusing her competitors, attempting to humiliate them in public, putting others down with snide remarks and harsh, repetitive, and unfair criticism. I'm sure it makes for good TV and higher ratings. However, if you've ever experienced a bully boss at work you know how excruciating it can be. I was actually contemplating giving up my secret summer pleasure to avoid the pain I was feeling, just by observing Rachel in action on TV.
Fortunately, the Big Brother houseguests gathered their courage and booted her off the show and good triumphed over evil. Pop culture can sometimes be a valuable teacher, especially in the summer, when it's too hot to go outside. Reality shows like Big Brother can offer a respite from the weather, but not necessarily from office politics and leadership snafus.