Love it or hate it, you’ve probably seen at least one episode of Survivor. Outwit, Outplay, Outlast has become ingrained in our media culture. We started running a Survivor Pool here at the office. We enjoy the friendly competition, but on top of that, we enjoy discussing the social interactions that occur on each episode.
Despite the fact that Survivor was originally touted as a game of survival, it has become much more of a social contest. How well one navigates the social atmosphere will largely determine how far they make it in the game.
The first two episodes of this season’s game (Millennials vs. Gen X) have given us an interesting look into team dynamics. At this point in the game, the goal is to win challenges to avoid having to vote the people in your team out. You need to keep your team strong. As trainers, we’d advise the teams to do anything they can to stay united in this goal. We’d encourage people to get to know one another’s strengths so they can utilize them during challenges (and around camp), keep morale up and confidence high. Teams should focus on building trust so each person goes into the challenge committed to one another. When a team is self-assured, supportive and focused on the same goal, they usually excel.
However, what’s happening instead (and what happens during every season of Survivor) is people are immediately trying to undermine their team members. They point out weaknesses and create distrust and uncertainty. Many times they are deciding before the challenge even happens who they are going to vote out if they lose. This means they are essentially accepting defeat before the challenge takes place. More times than not, when a team is focused on who will be voted out if they lose, they are the team that loses the challenge.
Survivor may seem like just another reality show, but there are many lessons within it we can apply to the teams in our own organizations. What’s your team focusing on? Are you building one another up? Are you accepting defeat before you’ve even started?