So I’ve been quiet on the blog recently for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, much as I’m enjoying this series of The Apprentice, it hasn’t engaged me to the same degree as its predecessors. Maybe I’ve seen these same tasks too many times before. Or maybe I’ve seen this cast of candidate characters too many times before. With my HDS hat on (the Hogan Development Survey psychometric) I’m on the look out for dysfunctional leadership behaviours. But every time I spot a ‘dark side’ with the potential to de-rail a particular candidate, it looks like a carbon copy of that exhibited by last year’s identikit candidate.
Instead of Charming-Manipulative Jedi Jim, for example, simply insert smooth-talking sinister-eyed salesman Stephen Brady.
We’ve also lost (along with lots of dead wood) two of the most interesting candidates too early in the process. Bilyana Apostolova, had she not talked her way to the sack in week one, promised to be painfully brilliant television. And Katie Wright, who was nearly caught out in that opening week when she ‘went missing’, was shaping up to be an interesting contender as she demonstrated both amused detachment and a penchant for persuading project managers to take perilous risks.
After her near-sacking experience, Katie started to come across as the first candidate in years who actually seemed to be doing this for fun.
But then she got fired.
However, the other reason for my blogging silence is that I’ve been devoting some time to supporting the development of leadership potential among a different demographic from the ‘day job’. For the last couple of months I’ve been volunteering one day a week at a local Primary School – helping out for half a term each first in Year 1, then Year 3 and now Year 6 (I would be there today but for their SATS).
As a fan and frequent user of the MBTI, I’ve found it fascinating to see how facets of this personality model manifest themselves in those so young. The theory behind MBTI says that our personality type is set from birth and, if you subscribe to that, it should come as no surprise that spotting the ‘preference’ of a child is in some ways simpler than determining that of many adults. Most children have experienced fewer of those facets of life which, whilst having nothing to do with personality type per se, do have a huge bearing on who and how we are. And children also tend to just ‘be themselves’ to a greater degree than most adults can.
The Year 6 teacher set her class a debating topic recently which provided immediate insight into the Extraversion or Introversion preference of many of her pupils. As soon as the debate started, a number of the children charged in with their initial opinion – often to revise these before the end of the same sentence. Others could be seen sitting back, listening and reflecting before articulating their considered view. Neither approach had anything to do with the intelligence or academic ability of the different children, but plenty to do with their ‘E or I’ preference.
The Year 6 children also hugely enjoy an activity designed to develop their ‘mental maths’ capability – and again it readily reveals the Extravert or Introvert preference of many of the children. The activity starts with one pupil standing behind the chair of a seated classmate. The teacher calls out a ‘mental maths’ question (e.g. ‘what is the square root of 81?‘) and whichever child first shouts the correct answer then takes up position behind the next pupil’s chair.
There are a couple of clearly Extravert children in the class who are very good at mental maths and often ‘remain standing’ for some considerable time. There are others who blurt out the first answer which pops into their head, quickly followed by another if the initial response was wrong. Contrastingly, last week one of the more capable girls in terms of her numeracy was celebrating an unprecedented (for her) five ‘first correct answers’ in succession despite her obvious Introvert preference for thinking through the question before speaking.
I’m finding my time in the classroom fascinating in many respects. I also recognise (as I believe the education system now does to a much greater degree than when I was at school) that our personality type has a huge bearing on how each of us likes to learn (at the risk of sounding like ‘I’m 93 you know’, there was a very strong STJ bias in the way we were taught). So I may well return to this theme – and perhaps rather sooner than posting another Apprentice piece.
Although that might all change after tonight’s task; to ‘create a brand and identity’ for an English sparkling wine. What odds on a ‘Jubi-lympic’ tie-in?