I have a confession to make:  I have been glued to Bear Grylls’ Celebrity Island recently!  I find it a fascinating snap-shot of human nature and spirit put to the test in some quite extreme circumstances.  For a coach and leadership development specialist it’s manna from heaven – an extreme developmental team away day (or 30).

One of the most striking things about this series has been the leadership demonstrated by TOWIE’s Pete Wicks.  It was fascinating to watch him take on the role of leader of the camp and to gain the buy-in and support of his peers.  So powerful was his leadership style that he managed to convince the entire camp to be pescatarian for the four hungry weeks they spent on the island, surviving only on fish and fruit and vegetables whilst ‘Colin’ the wild pig went free.

So what was it that Pete did that was so successful?  Here’s a few observations:

  • He led from the front.  Several of the cohabitants on the island commented on the fact that he never expected anyone to do anything he wouldn’t do himself.  This is a very participative style of leadership and as we saw, works well to bring a sense of harmony and co-operation to a group.  Individuals feel supported in their endeavours and very much involved in the decision making process;
  • He lived by his values.  Pete knew from the very outset that he himself would not kill an animal for food on the island and he very much wanted his celebrity friends to follow suit.  In order to achieve this he used a visionary style of leadership, setting out the reasons for his thinking and a clear plan for an alternative means of obtaining food.  He solicited views on his ideas and gave authentic and meaningful air space to others.  He worked hard to make sure there was enough fish to go round and when food was short, he went without himself, demonstrating a genuine commitment to his cause.  (He also gave the pig a name – which was a stroke of genius!);
  • He listened.  So often leaders fail to recognise this very basic need of those around them.  We are none of us the finished and perfect article and it was clear in Pete’s affiliative style of leadership that he valued the input and opinions of others;
  • He was decisive when the situation called for it, setting goals and allocating tasks with clear expectations.  He used this directive style of leadership relatively sparingly and always communicated his wishes with respect and integrity.
  • Most importantly, he was an agile leader and could flex different, positive styles as the situation demanded it.