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The Apprentice 2: How Elizabeth Could Have Saved Herselfby Gil Sery -- 11/01/04
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There are two words Elizabeth could have used that would have saved her a lot of frustration, an attempted coup, and her elimination. What are those two words? Executive Decision.
Now granted, executive decisions are risky on The Apprentice because if things don't pan out, you're more than likely to get the boot. Bradford made an executive decision with his toy idea. His team didn't like it, but they had to respect it. Fortunately, he saw reason and later nixed the idea when Toys R Us execs told him and his team that the idea wouldn't work.
Jennifer C. also made an executive decision by choosing to go ahead with the Asian Fusion restaurant instead of listening to the Zagat execs when they said that was too complex to pull off. If Elizabeth had he stones to make an executive decision, there would have been no military-themed ad campaign, and the remarks would have been different, not necessarily better, but different.
President Bartlett on last week's episode of West Wing is a perfect example of someone who has the courage of his convictions. At the risk of comparing something as trivial as competing in a reality show to something as serious as bombing a country - remember folks, this is a plotline in a fictional show; it's not reality - the Apprentice and West Wing episodes have one thing in common: both have leaders who see events differently from their respective teams.
On the West Wing, every one of President Bartlett's senior staff members told him he had to bomb Syria in retaliation for the killing of two American congressmen in an attack, but the President was more concerned with the bigger picture -- getting the Israelis and Palestinians to sit down at the negotiating table. Then, when that was done, he issued the go-ahead for the bombing.
So how does this relate to The Apprentice? President Bartlett stuck to his guns when everyone around him was telling him to give in. That takes courage, and no small amount of chutzpah. Elizabeth didn't stick to her guns. She let her team walk all over her. She should have put her foot down and said, "We're not doing a military campaign. We're just not. Executive Decision." Then she and her team could have gotten down to the job of thinking of things *apart* from the military idea.
Going back to that same episode of the West Wing, President Bartlett sat his entire staff down in the Oval Office, and basically said, "Think of an alternative, any alternative, even if it's stupid." That's what Elizabeth should have done. She should have *led* her team in an attempt to come up with a different, better campaign; not *be led* by her team. It was HER turn to lead HER team and the decision was HERS to make.
That's the fundamental difference between Elizabeth and Stacy R. Stacy was a team follower and could only hope to sell the team on her idea. If they didn't like it, tough for Stacy. On the other hand, Elizabeth was a team leader. As leader, what she says goes. Yes, she should listen to her teammate's ideas, as all good leaders should, but if she felt so strongly about not doing a military campaign, she should have made an executive decision not to do a military campaign and with that out of the way, go from there.
Aside from her lack of backbone, another huge mistake Elizabeth made was changing her mind after she and Kevin worked until 2 in the morning to come up with a different non-military campaign. So her team members' claims that there were no other ideas on the table were untrue. The problem was exactly the opposite -- there were too many ideas on the table and Elizabeth, as the leader, couldn't pick one. There was the military campaign, Elizabeth and Kevin's idea, and the version of Elizabeth and Kevin's idea that Elizabeth modified and tried unsuccessfully to explain to her teammates.
So, in the end, Elizabeth lost because she didn't stick to her guns and didn't make an executive decision. Yes, Apex may have lost even if they went with a non-military-themed campaign, but at least then Elizabeth would have actually led the team. Instead, she let her team steamroll over her and run amok. The result was a frightening TV ad that looked more like a martial law scene out of The Siege, than a NYPD recruitment ad.
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