P.C.Pop with Pablo

Survivor Leadership, Chapter 3 — Family First

In CBS, Group Dynamics, Leadership, Malavenda, Pablo Malavenda, Pop Culture, Reality TV, Survivor, TV shows, Uncategorized on March 8, 2012 at 9:08 pm

Island of Misfit Toys


Before reading this PC Pop blog post, you may want to read the first two posts about Survivor and Leadership: Survivor Leadership, Chapter 1 — The Leadership Primer and Survivor Leadership, Chapter 2 — Self-Fulfilling Prophecy.


Survivor: 24 premiered on February 15, 2012 with the theme of “One World.” How ironic that this group of contestants is behaving so badly. More and more, Survivor Tribes resemble the Island of Misfit Toys — without the love and acceptance — sort of like a family. What many of us know but rarely practice is that you can’t positively impact your “World” until you know who you are first. If you are to be a leader in your community, you must know your-SELF, then your FAMILY, then OTHERS. Once you become self aware of your own talents and issues, have the love, support and coaching from your family — you then impact your community and change the world.

The Manono (men’s) Tribe this season has many similarities to a true family.  When Colton told Bill during Tribal Council that they never would have been friends if they were not castaways together on Survivor — it reminded me of family. Just like a family, one begins to wonder how you all ended up together. If family members were brave enough to admit it, they would confess that they might not be interested in each other if they weren’t related. You’re stuck with each other — in your family and within your tribe on Survivor.  Every family has issues and dysfunction. One could believe that Matt, Colton, Bill and Tarzan could all be from the same dysfunctional family. Even Leif, Jay and Jonas can be believable members of this imaginary family. Leaders within the tribe, family or community know that you must see the value in all members and work hard to build trust through respect and love. So, what can leaders learn from Survivor as well as from a healthy family model? Families, especially leaders within a family, have the following:

  • Unconditional Love (Support, Tough Love, Respect, Empathy)
  • Values – Rules – Traditions – Loyalty
  • Mercy, Grace, and Forgiveness

Every family has freaks, bigots, sexists, geeks, homophobia, and ageism to name a few.. We all have a tough time talking about and supportingfamily members with psychological issues, addictions, and individuals with disabilities — but we do. Each family has individuals who make more money, have more education, and have different ideas about success and worth. Every family has had members make mistakes, big mistakes; and at these times, the family has to seek guidance, find grace, practice mercy and give forgiveness. In a healthy family you have dysfunction but the leaders of the family plead to never give up on one another.  Family leaders expect a lot and challenge other family members, and everyone knows they will always find love and acceptance. Family leaders and elders pass along a set of values and rules through stories and by example. When family members don’t follow the rules — they can count on being held accountable and asked to face the consequences.

If the Survivor Manono Tribe were a functioning, healthy family (with issues, of course), one would hope they would deal with things differently. Here are some examples:

  • Matt, the self proclaimed leader of the Muscle Alliance, would have been taken down a few pegs in a real family.  Just because you are strong, have a law degree and have declared yourself in charge doesn’t mean it is so.  Matt made the mistake of not becoming part of the bigger family, getting to know others, laughing and playing with others, and eventually trusting and supporting others. Matt and Michael may never understand why the tribe would vote off someone so “strong” but for the others it was easy because they had no emotional bond with Matt.
  • Leif and Jonas on the other hand don’t take initiative enough. Matt could not gain the tribe’s trust and respect because he asserted himself too much.  Leif and Jonas will eventually lose favor if they don’t stand up for what they know is right; and more importantly, speak up when things are not right, just or respectful. On some level though you have to admire Leif’s honesty and compassion but when challenged he must stand up for what he believes is right or else he is destined to be vulnerable and abused.
  • Bill is the joker of the family.  Laughter is a wonderful part of any family but it can go too far. Bill comes on too strong, too soon, and at inappropriate times. Bill doesn’t have much of a filter and goes too far.  When challenged he gets defensive which turns people away even further. My guess is that Bill lacks some confidence and relies on teasing and jokes to feel acceptance.  Bill should relax, be himself, and let others get to know him first — before the jokes begin.
  • Greg aka Tarzan is a creative, accomplished, and wise member of the family.  Like a lot of older family members, Tarzan struggles with balancing fitting in with the younger members of the family while being true to his values.  Tarzan, like many other members of the tribe, has not taken the initiative to bring the entire tribe together.  This tribe is too small to have two different alliances and Tarzan can do something about it.  More than anyone else in the tribe, Tarzan, because of his wisdom and demeanor has a responsibility to put the tribe, or family, first.  Tarzan is missing an important opportunity.
  • And then there’s Colton. There is really no excuse for how offensive, disrespectful and destructive Colton has been to this family. Much of what Colton says is behind people’s backs. He has been particularly insensitive to individuals with disabilities.  Leif who is a little person has been called an Oompa-Loompa and a Munchkin by Colton.  Colton has said “if you can’t see that I am in charge then you must be Helen Keller.”  Colton thinks these comments are funny. He is too ignorant to understand that words, like “ghetto trash” and language are very harmful and hurtful. Colton is also an elitist and classist who doesn’t have any empathy for those who suffer misfortune, who are unemployed, homeless, and poor. Colton needs the unconditional love of a family which would not tolerate his bigotry and disrespect of others.  A family would hold him accountable for his words and actions and beliefs and still love and support him.

If you see each tribe as a family — you can begin to see hope for their Survival.  The problem with this group of men is that there was no true leadership and as a result they started this journey without ever seeing any value in their own family — their tribe.  They split up into two separate alliances the Muscle Alliance and the Misfit Alliance. They have mocked the notion of “One World.”  They have such little concern over the strength of the family as a whole — they voluntarily went to Tribal Council, a first in Survivor history.  The family would not have and cannot come together without the emergence of leaders who intentionally work at it.  This is where they care for each other as individuals, support and love each other, and help each other grow and learn and develop into better citizens.  This makes the family stronger.  Once the family is strong then collectively and individually they can start having a positive impact on the community. This unfortunately never happened with the Manono Tribe.

Just like your family — there is hope for the Manono Tribe.  Just when you think no one will every get along again — something happens that brings you all together. And like the Island of Misfit Toys, we’re not looking to change anyone — just for everyone to accept us, respect us, and love us unconditionally. One World.


Read more about studying Leadership while watching the CBS reality TV show, Survivor, in the PCPop blog posts:





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