Heaven scent

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Sir ALee McQueen came up smelling of roses last night as he was crowned Sir Alan’s Apprentice for 2008. But leadership expert John Fay says that with a little training, the future looks bright for the almost rans.

The final four competitors - Claire, Lee, Alex and Helene – were tasked with creating and branding a fragrance for the modern man, as well as pulling together an advertising campaign to run alongside the launch.

The hopefuls were joined by six of the previous contestants to help them with the task and Claire and Lee chose Jenny, Simon and Michael for support while Alex and Helene chose Jennifer, Kevin and Raef for back-up.

Claire and Lee got off to a flying start, carrying out market research with a group of plumbers to determine what men would look for in a fragrance. This was a good first step as it showed Team Alpha were keen to meet the demands of a potential audience rather than hurtling along with their own ideas.

There was tension in Team Renaissance with Alex and Helene clashing from the outset and even unable to determine a name for their new brand. Alex 'I'm only 24' Wotherspoon complained to team mate Kevin that Helene was unable to make any decisions and the two came to blows back at the house.

This demonstrated a training need as Alex and Helene were unable to work together as a team, which inevitably contributed to them losing the task. Helene was refusing to speak to Alex on the phone and a breakdown of communication is always detrimental to the success of any project.

Both teams had to present their fragrances to a roomful of industry experts and this is where Team Alpha showed they were a scent above the others.

Lee’s presentation skills had improved hugely, following his bumbling attempts in a previous task, and Claire’s handling of difficult questions from the audience was highly impressive. Their united front and developed skills showed the benefits of working on weaknesses and won them the place as the final two contestants in Sir Alan’s boardroom.

Claire and Lee were both strong but very different candidates. Claire was highlighted early on in the 12-week trial as needing to address her mouthy approach to work and to stop interrupting. This was a character trait and she worked hard to turn this around but unfortunately for her, the change came too late.

Her managerial skills were praised by other team members and there was no doubt she was up to the challenge of being Sir Alan’s chosen apprentice but she perhaps needed training to address her social approach to work and improve her personable skills to make her a better team player.

Lee, on the other hand, billed himself as the 'nice guy' and feared this would stand in his way but his down-to-earth, friendly approach won him favour with Sir Alan. He is a likeable person and is keen to impress and progress. His presentation skills have improved dramatically and this could be strengthened further with some formal training.

Lee is a well-rounded individual and his strengths as a personable team player, along with his ability to motivate and lead a team successfully, should lead to a bright future for this 30-year-old former recruitment sales manager.

He has learnt his lesson from lying on his CV and is disappointed with how this reflected on his integrity but will now be able to move on from this. Will dishonesty in the workplace, like Lee’s reverse pterodactyl impression, now be extinct?

Leadership expert John Fay was awarded an MBE for his work teaching leadership, confidence and citizenship skills to young people during a 10-year period. He is the founder of SFL, a change management, leadership and development company. For more information visit www.sflworld.com

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