Thursday, May 19, 2016

Can You Learn Leadership from TV?

As I watched yet another edition of Navy Criminal Investigation Service (NCIS), the make-believe outfit that catches criminals, prevents jihad attacks, and otherwise protects the free world, all in the name of entertainment, I realised there is something to learn from these shows.

I prefer the version of NCIS that has Hetti managing a small team at Los Angeles. All of the actors complement each other very well and there is a balance of humour, nonsense, and the serious work where everyone manages to walk away from a gunfight while leaving numerous dead crims lying bleeding on pavements. Most of all I enjoy spending a little time with the lovely Kensey and thinking about how lovely it would be to spend a week with her sipping red wine and eating seafood. But I'm wandering, which is permissible when you're an older guy.

Seriously, if you watch these shows, you can pick up examples of both sound and unsound leadership practices.

For example, Hetti, one of the shortest people I have ever seen, demonstrates a rapport with her team that any leader would wish for. She manages to stay firm and run a tight ship while remaining compassionate, empathetic and on top of the job. She has the respect and admiration of everyone on her team. She's also highly experienced and apparently very good at her role.

Being able to lead a team and balance formality and control with friendship and  mutual respect isn't as easy as it sounds. It takes years of trial and error.

By comparison, the gentleman who plays Grissom in Crime Scene Investigation (CSI), is quite often grumpy, up tight, very direct, and often sarcastic to his team members when performance isn't as he expects it. Team members are a tad cautious about him and his occasional rants when he doesn't agree with something a team member has done. While he is a likeable character, he seems (in my opinion) to lack some of the niceties necessary when leading a team.

As actors, the roles being played are dictated to them by their script writers and both Hetti and Grissom do an excellent job. In the real world, you have to write your own script - so to speak and as I said previously, it's trial and error.

If you are a developing leader or aspire to be a leader, you could benefit from watching some of the leaders in the entertainment world. See how they do their jobs, how they treat their staffs, customers, and peers. Compare it with your workplace and what you have learned about leadership and management theory.

Please come back in a few days and leave a comment about your experience.


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