Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Undercover Boss - How did it come to this?

I watched Undercover Boss UK again last night - what are the lessons we can learn from this? 

It often amazes me how this is such a successful show.  It’s a massive franchise with shows in many countries, and has been going for years.

But how on earth did these leaders of major companies get to be so out of touch with what is happening on their ground floor?  How can they have been in their position as leader for so long without knowing that the house of cards is falling down around them.  Indeed how did they get to the top of a successful and large organisation by losing touch?

Also, how do the staff who get to work with the bosses, unknowingly, actually never realise who their boss is?  And how come when they’re in the taxi on the way to head office for the 'one last interview to camera as part of the pretence’, they still haven’t worked it out? 

Then, in head office, they are sat down and reintroduced to the boss.  When they realise who it is there’s always a few words of ‘Oh my Gosh!’ etc.  Then, after a short discussion, they get offered a holiday or promotion for their efforts.  Is this good leadership?  Rewarding a single individual who just happened to turn up for work the same day as the boss made his unannounced visit?  

We think there are a few lessons for all leaders in this.  And they are not difficult - they include;

 - Don’t lose touch with the grass roots.  
 - Speak to people. 
 - Pick the phone up once in a while to anybody within the organisation - and have a chat about how things are going.
 - If you have a big business, visit every aspect, every store, every warehouse, meet everyone at least once a year.
 - And don’t be selective with rewards, but promote on genuine merit. 

Also, let’s not forget this is mass publicity for the companies involved - and all publicity s good publicity, right?

Whichever way you look at it, it’s a fascinating programme, and unmissable in my household at least!

Editor, The Leadership Academy.

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