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Reality TV & Politics ≠ Reality Leadership

Source | LinkedIn : By DaveUlrich

For the last 15 years, we have become desensitized to real life through supposed reality TV.  Originally, reality TV was about funny settings (Candid Camera), game shows (Dating Game), and talent (Original Amateur Hour; Idol; Voice).  Then, these light hearted escape shows took a significant turn.  They began to focus on who could win at the expense of others (Survivor, Apprentice,  Bachelor).  We began to peek inside the lives of outlandish lifestyles (Osborns, Kardashians, Real Lives) as a source of escape.  Over time, reality TV has shaped our collective mindset where intensity and insults replace insight and civility and emotional outbursts matter more than reasoned dialogue.  While our normal lives are not as emotional or intense as those depicted, we become inured to emotional sensationalism and come to expect it. 

Reality TV has now cast a shadow on the American political process.  Debates are less about policy and more about personality with a focus on insults and emotional outbursts that create headlines.  Campaigns are characterized by empty slogans with promises that have little chance of being fulfilled.  Long term feels like the next episode in a political reality TV show, which comes from a news cycle or political event (debate, primary, speech).  Serious societal issues like immigration, health care, security, and fiscal discipline are reduced to sound bites with appeals to our passions, but little real substance.  As a result of this reality politics, we are not living in a real world where we have to work together to solve problems.

May we as a society NOT let reality TV and reality politics shape how leaders lead and how organizations operate.  We need leaders who are not about personal authenticity through emotion and intensity, but about creating sustainable value for others.  Leaders succeed by making others better through recognizing and achieving their potential.  Leadership is less about the leader and more about the outcomes the leader creates for others.  We need organizations that combine individual talent into a collective benefit.  Leaders and organizations can be a source for good and for progress when they help create a new reality based on what can be more than decrying what is not, when they help us solve problems together that we can not accomplish alone, and when they enable us to become superior to our former selves.  Let us maintain our personal sensitivity by not letting reality TV and politics become reality leadership.  

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