I’m not a fan of reality TV – although I get the allure. Seeing good-looking yet otherwise ordinary folk in desperate competition for the affections of a stranger, to be trapped in starvation or to be reduced to tears by a personal trainer has just enough interest in it to have us abandon our principles.
The common theme seems to be that conflict and pain are more aesthetically appealing than collaboration and improvement.
But reality TV shows are not all the same.
The one reality show that has gained a constant foothold in our home has been MasterChef. Of the reality shows on offer, MasterChef is the one that bases it’s appeal not on dispute, espionage, alliances and deception – but on collective good will.
In MasterChef, the competitive nature of the show – because there IS a winner – is deliberately overshadowed by the encouragement of the participants towards each other, by their genuine willingness to be happy for the successes of others and by their determination to hug somebody when they get a gastronomical kick in the teeth.
In business, it can feel like the best levers to pull are competitive ones. Fierce determination, ruthless aggression and endless accountability are commonplace. But the truth is that these mechanisms are best used against your competition and not within your teams.
Collaborative pursuits, like the kindness and cooperation highlighted on MasterChef, are what will provide a higher level of performance. And I’d certainly contend that there’s more improvement, more learning and more mastery happening on MasterChef than there is on The Bachelorette!
Competition and outcomes are a distraction from and an anchor on any team’s improvement agenda. And if you really can’t resist them, just remember that you could be the next one voted off the island.