Extraordinary Team Blog

“Survivor” Not Far Off the Mark When it Comes to Teamwork

Posted by Kristin Arnold on September 29, 2010

Survivor has invaded the teams of corporate America.  Survivor-isms such as “I’ve just been voted off the island” and “my torch has gone out” are creeping into our everyday language.

Survivor starts out with two “tribes” who must vote a fellow team member off the island if they don’t win an immunity challenge.  In corporate America, we’re basically stuck with the members on our team, whether we like it or not.  On Survivor, each team member must vote a member off the island, whether they want to or not.  In a strangely twisted fashion, the show offers an interesting insight into basic, primal team dynamics.  Tribe members were voted (or evacuated) off the island for basic reasons:

Know-It-All. One survivor participant was voted off the island because she stepped up in a leadership role to build a fire without being able to deliver.  Posing as the expert, she talked about how to build a fire, but couldn’t spark a flame.  Meanwhile, another team member who had knowledge and experience in construction was quietly building a shelter.  No one begrudged his efforts because he clearly knew what he was doing.  Although the potential fire builder had read all the books, she clearly didn’t know how to build a fire.

Trust is Broken. Another survivor was accused of smuggling beef jerky into the camp and was “seen” eating “something” along the hike.  Looking for evidence, his doubting teammates searched his pack and found nothing.  When confronted, he denied the accusations and said he was just eating blades of grass.  Wanting to get back in good graces with the team, he even offered the use of his luxury item, a shaving kit.  Right or wrong, trust was broken.

Can’t Keep Up. Teams are made up of diverse people with different strengths and weaknesses – that’s what makes teams so unique.  However, teams also expect a certain level of basic skills, knowledge, and expertise.  Otherwise, what do you bring to the team?  Even though you may be well liked and respected, you still need to be able to keep up with the intense physical nature of the immunity challenges — a core team activity necessary for the team’s survival.

Whining. The team got tired of one contestant’s constant complaining.  In the end, when he had to explain why he should remain, he whined that he was emotionally and mentally drained and another contestant should continue, not him. Well, hold your pity party off the island because no one wants to hear it anymore.  Too bad we can’t kick the chronic whiners off our teams!

Annoying. As a devout vegetarian irritated her teammates with her dramatic displays of sympathy for slaying chickens and her inability to suck down weird delicacies.  Talking late into the night as well as bemoaning the water quality in nearby river, she alienated all of her teammates and was unanimously voted off the island.

Too Close to the Fire. Let’s face it; stuff happens.  Sometimes, we do the politically incorrect, physically inept or just plain ol’ stupid thing and you get burned.

Question:  What kind of survivor are you?

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