Saturday, February 19, 2011

Leadership on 'Survivor'

Leadership within the game 'Survivor' has its special challenges. Since it is a zero-sum game that results in one person winning a million dollars, establishing yourself as a dominant leader early in the game has proven to be a strategy that gets you voted off early. But leading a secret alliance that only a few people know about has proven to be a successful strategy.

This season looks to be very interesting with two of the more experienced players who use the second strategy, Russell and Boston Rob, rejoining the game with a cast of newbies. Do the new players get rid of them quickly or do they use their experience? I guess we'll find out over the course of the next few weeks.

Today I want to focus on a different person, though. Former Special Agent Philip. Here we meet him for the first time:
Did you get the same first impression I got? "Methinks he doth protest too much." My first question is: What kind of special agent? Department of Agriculture? Was he the guy visiting the slaughterhouses giving out the USDA Grade A stamp? Because I cannot believe this nut was let anywhere near the FBI other than as a groundskeeper. But let's see how he interacts with others.

All...righty then. Notice some things about him. He completely alienates others but he has no clue. You can
see their body language, the way they won't make eye contact, their tone of voice, but all he hears is that they agree with him, so he feels justified in his actions. He reminds me of one of those early American Idol contestants, who have no clue that they cannot hold a note. This guy is 52 years old but hasn't figured out yet that he is a terrible leader. Is that why he is the CEO of his own software company? (must be a company of one) Because he cannot find anyone who will follow him? Let's watch him some more.

So the tribe loses immunity and goes to Tribal Council. Francesca and Kristina are allied with this nut but aren't sure who to vote against and whether or not they want to stay allied with him. The rest of the tribe are splitting their votes between the two ladies. The host asks questions intended to bring out alliances and stir the pot. People who watch the show know to be careful in their answers, betray nothing, look for weaknesses in others and exploit those weaknesses in tonight's and future votes. Let's now watch Phil's strategy here. Remember the second clip where he said he would be open and honest...

Yeah, Wow.Talk about revealing yourself to be a nut! Usually that is the death-knell for anyone, but Rob was real specific in his instructions to his alliance earlier. "No matter what happens, don't switch your votes." And he reiterated his instructions to his alliance before they wrote names down. So now Kristina doesn't need to play her idol since she knows that Phil is voting for 'Francesqua'. Here's Rob's comment about the newbies:
And I guess Phil's throat problem that 'he's getting treatment for' spread to his hand when he voted:
So there we have it. This season's designated insane contestant makes it through the first vote and Rob has command of his tribe. Things don't look good for Phil or Kristina. Why won't people keep the hidden immunity idol secret? I've never seen it work well until it is used with total surprise.


  1. Great post, Bruce! What I don't understand is why the survivors didn't see Phil for what he is (a lunatic) before they allied with him. I do understand why people don't keep the idol a secret - very few people can contain such exciting information; they must share it to feel validated.

  2. Phil must have been angling for the $100,000 second plae the whole time, based on his strategy.

    Rob did manage to keep the idol a secret and it really helped.