Hello. My name is Karma and I'm a bitch. Leadership lessons from MTV's The Challenge.
I would love to tell you that the clever title to this blog is my creation, but I need to credit the writers of MTV’s The Challenge with coming up with this pearl. You see, I can’t be high-brow ALL the time. In between reading the latest Chuck Klosterman book or listening to Malcom Gladwell’s podcast, I like to indulge in reality TV such as The Challenge.
The Challenge is a show where previous reality TV contestants are put in a house and compete through crazy challenges for the chance to win big money. Through the season there is a lot of drinking, hookups, fighting and all around shenanigans. Quality programing.
I grew up watching The Real World and Road Rules, and something about putting folks that have participated in these shows through gruesome challenges provides me with the mindless entertainment I sometimes need.
This season, the theme of the Challenge was Vendettas. Everyone who participated in the show this year had some beef with at least one of the contestants. The premise is that, if you did somebody wrong you have created a vendetta and now this person is out to get you. The line featured in the title was uttered by Johnny Bananas, The Challenge’s closest thing to a household name. He was eliminated earlier in the season but was brought back as a mercenary to bring havoc on those who eliminated him. Classic stuff.
As I am watching this banality, I can’t help to think about my career and if I made any vendettas along the way. Did I do somebody wrong, even if unintentionally? What repercussions would come back to bite me? I am proud to say that I did not have many. However, I am also honest enough to tell you that I have some regrets along the way. I could have treated some people better. I could have done more to stick up for what was right. We are not perfect, so being aware of the ones that you wronged, and the vendettas you have made along your career, will allow you to move forward in a way that will allow you to not make the same mistakes.
We are living in a time where people do not think about the consequences of their actions. Whether it is a hurtful comment you make, or not sticking up for someone that is down, there are effects to how you conduct yourself. However, as a leader, it is also your job to ensure that you are giving feedback and at times making unpopular decisions that need to be made. So how do you go about doing these necessary things without creating your very own vendettas? Here are some things that I have tried to do as a leader:
People hate being blindsided. In The Challenge, or in life. There is no surer way to create a vendetta than by blindsiding someone. Instead of holding things close to your chest and just springing them on people when there is no other way out, be transparent. If someone is not performing the way that they should, have a conversation with them. Set expectations. Make sure that they know what they need to do, or not do, in order to be successful. When you are transparent, you are giving the other party the power to decide whether they want to change or continue on their current path. When repercussions are made clear, there is no one to blame.
Being accountable is not about taking blame, even though some people think it is. Being accountable is about ownership of solutions. It is about seeing something that can be dealt with and doing what you need to do to resolve it. In essence, it is doing the things you say you are going to do. If you are a pile of empty promises, and people cannot count on you, rest assured that in the future there will come a time when you will need someone else and they will not be there for you. Lead by example. Do good.
No one is perfect. You will screw up, you will hurt people. That is just a reality. That doesn’t mean that you can’t do anything about it. From time to time, make a trip down memory lane and see if there is anyone that you might have affected negatively. Reach out to them. Selflessly. This means that you are doing it because it is the right thing to do, not because you want forgiveness. Just the fact that you are validating that you wronged someone, and that you recognize it can make a huge difference. Admit you were wrong.
Hopefully by going about your business in a straightforward, transparent, accountable way, you will not go through your career making vendettas at every turn. Better yet, when you come face to face with Karma, AKA as your very own Johnny Bananas, all he will say is: “Good to see you, go get ‘em.”
Andre Mello is a Business Coach and a Reality TV addict. He has been in marketing and leadership for over 17 years. If you would like to connect with Andre, please visit www.wysecoaching.com.