Paul Hargreaves: Business isn’t about winning and losing any more
I had to chuckle to myself when watching the first episode in the new series of the BBC’s ‘The Apprentice’. Have I changed over the years, or have the candidate’s own impressions of themselves become more and more inflated over the years? I realise that after a programme has been running for 15 years, it has to hype itself more to be noticed, but this is getting ridiculous! One of them claims to have “confidence and emotional intelligence off the charts….and can persuade anyone to do anything”. Listen to yourself, man, if you have high emotional intelligence, you wouldn’t be doing that. The poor lad is only 20, I am sure he will learn.
Another candidate suggested in his intro that he needed “billions to live the life he wants to lead”. Come on, no one needs millions let alone billions. My point here is that The Apprentice candidates seem to be polarising more in the direction of selfishness and extreme competitiveness whereas the business climate is heading very much in the opposite direction. If someone came on the programme saying that all they wanted to do was to ensure a fairer world and contribute to other’s success, they wouldn’t get on the programme, yet collaboration and cooperation are where successful business people are heading these days.
The scenario where I must win, therefore someone else loses (otherwise known as a zero-sum game) is becoming outdated and I wonder whether The Apprentice may too. Business isn’t about winning and losing any more, as that creates short-termism and too much reliance on individuals rather than collaboration across different companies. Success is no longer just about quarterly financial numbers, but about our employees, customers, suppliers and the planet. Are they in a better position now than they were last quarter through our endeavours?
It's an exciting time to be in business as the status quo is being disrupted at an every-increasing rate, and as now part of the older half of the business world I am energised by what the younger generations are bringing into the melting pot. In fact, unlike the apprentice who feels that he is “a 60-year-old trapped in a teenager’s body”, I feel like a teenager trapped inside a 50-something year old’s body! Enjoy your week.