On dressing, distressing and the dangers of group think!

I watched the Weakest Link last night.  Anne Robinson was clearly in good form!  I missed most of the opening round but I did see the first departure and that made me wonder.  Dave was voted off mainly, apparently,  for his rather flamboyant shirt and the distraction it caused for others.  He hadn’t got any of the questions wrong.  For me his response to going was confusing!   He had a fairly fixed smile on his face as he commented that no one would be surprised as he was expected to have ago at things and fail.

For me this raises a number of challenging issues:

  • Dressing for the programme/part/job really does make a difference! For this group, certainly how you dressed mattered.  When faced with making a choice, even when all other things were equal, the shirt was the deciding factor.
  • Believing you are going to fail usually means you do! If you don’t see yourself as a success, and don’t have the confidence that flows from that vision, then you begin to behave as if failure has already happened.  The energy level drops  and, guess what, down you fall from your tightrope!
  • Standing out from the crowd is risky!  Choosing to stand out from the crowd is always brave but to some degree it is usually required for real success.  It is risky! You put yourself apart from the group and that can mean they turn on you!  If you are already reconciled to failure this can be very risky indeed!  It is very easy to slip into the role of victim and that can lead to bullying – see the point below!
  • Group think can be damage. I doubt these nice middle class contestants would have commented so publicly on someone’s dress, in a group with different values.  In a group it is very easy for us to take on group values and sometimes even slip into the habit of criticising to the point of bullying and destroying someone else’s confidence.   Do the groups you belong to reflect your own values? As a manager – what steps do you take to monitor the values of the groups you lead and how do you intervene to protect potential victims?

I would be very interested in your views on the issues raised here.  Have you been in a group that regarded you as ‘different’?  What happened and how did you handle it?  Have you found yourself managing a group that developed values different from those you would of chosen? What did you do?

2 Replies to “On dressing, distressing and the dangers of group think!”

  1. Hi Wendy – This is interesting – especially the point about group thinking. I don’t actually watch the Weakest Link nor do I care for Ms Robinson because at the core she relies on rudeness and attempted humiliation to score her points aka bullying. When the leader or central figure in any group is a bully, that changes the whole dynamic and creates the core values and norms of the group. Personally I think the programme should be taken off the air – I believe the show failed in the US for exactly those reasons!

    1. Thanks Dorothy. I think the point you make about leadership is very important. A deliberate strategy is adopted to create a climate that achieves a particular effect. Here it is done for the ‘entertainment’ value but I think there are mangers in the work place who create a climate of fear for their own purposes using the same approach! Off screen I believe Ms Robinson can be quite charming to the candidates but when those lights go on things change and very quickly!

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