The Traitors series two will be all about good leadership

Five business brains will battle betrayal in the second series of BBC One’s The Traitors, which starts tonight.

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Written and reviewed by:
Helena Young

The hit BBC One show The Traitors returns to UK screens tonight, following the runaway success of series one in 2022. The suspenseful reality TV series left millions of viewers questioning who would win out of the discerning ‘Faithfuls’ or the treacherous ‘Traitors’.

From the moment they step through the castle doors, 22 contestants must navigate a complex web of suspicion that’s more obscuring than Claudia Winkleman’s fringe. Amidst the lies and deceit, a crucial weapon for players is strong leadership.

This year, five company managers – including a volunteer mentor – will be among those working together to eliminate the other contestants and win up to £120,000. Here’s why their managerial skills and leadership styles could be the making of their success.

Business savvy

From the outset, viewers of the upcoming Traitors series will witness a clash of leadership philosophies as contestants attempt to convince fellow voters who they can and cannot trust. This year, the players include the following business experts:

  • Charlie, a mental health area manager from Bristol
  • Sonja, a volunteer business mentor from Lancashire
  • Jaz, an account manager from Manchester
  • Paul, a business manager from Manchester
  • Charlotte, a recruitment manager from Warwickshire

Should they take the Faithfuls’ side, the above group will need to tap into their existing leadership skills to successfully unveil the Traitors.

Strength in numbers

Faithfuls who can rally the group, build trust, and delegate tasks effectively will be most likely to avoid in-fighting and arrive at the correct result.

Democratic leadership is one way to achieve this outcome. As an open method of management, democratic leaders prioritise the involvement of every team member in the decision-making process, which will make it harder for a Traitor to sit back undetected.

In contrast, some of the earliest eliminations from last season came from autocratic leaders, who prefer to dictate and manage tasks without the involvement of other team members.

While effective for business management, these types of leaders tend to wind up other contestants in a Traitor setting. Mouthier than democratic leaders, they may also be more vulnerable to elimination by standing out from the collective.

Laissez-faire leadership

Of course, some leaders choose to take a less hands-on approach to guiding the team. Recruitment manager Charlotte says she’s already preparing to portray herself as “the ditzy one” in order to go undetected.

This approach demonstrates a ‘Laissez-faire’ attitude to management. By stepping back and putting trust in her colleagues to handle the larger dilemmas or crises, Charlotte can instead focus on assessing the participants’ behaviour, spotting inconsistencies and subtle tells.

Nonetheless, this approach can also lead to trust issues. Avoiding active participation during voting may make Charlotte a suspicious character if she is cast as a Faithful.

Bound to win

Some of the best moments from The Traitors series one came from the bonds formed between different players. Shared meals, team-building exercises, and moments of lighthearted camaraderie all serve to strengthen Faithful relations.

These bonds are crucial during the “roundtable,” where players vote to banish one another. Business mentor, Sonja can use her experience to partner with specific players ahead of these meetings, using networking skills to help mentees develop and improve their strategy.

Reported to have previously worked as a business negotiator, Sonja knows how to play the game seriously as a Traitor. Tapping into her persuasive skill set, she says she plans to “be the most devious Faithful you can be”.

Such tactics are an example of strategic leadership. Sonja is thinking long-term, meaning all of her individual decisions will form part of a larger plan to achieve the team’s overall goals.

Teamwork makes the Traitors work

Whatever their game plan, the common area where the Traitors tend to fall down is poor teamwork. There can only be one winner, and the ever-present threat of betrayal keeps the group on their toes.

If unwilling to trust their collaborators, the Traitors could meet their downfall. Even among Traitors, a united front is important. Strategic planning and coordinated deception can help them outmanoeuvre the Faithful and increase their chances of winning the final showdown.

Stakeholder management in a den of wolves

Leadership in “The Traitors” isn’t just about barking orders. As the game unfolds, it becomes a masterclass in stakeholder management. Both sides must consider the motivations and suspicions of every player, navigating a web of shifting alliances and personal agendas.

These challenges are reminiscent of the boardroom. Business leaders often need to utilise soft skills such as empathy and communication to figure out what different stakeholders want, what worries them, and what they expect from their project or business.

The winners of The Traitors game will similarly be those who can read the room, adapt their strategies, and ultimately, command the trust (or fear) of followers.

For the Traitors, this means managing the paranoia they inevitably sow, and maintaining a veneer of cooperation. Faithfuls, meanwhile, must navigate the emotional fallout of betrayals, rebuilding trust and resolving conflict before it can be exploited by the Faithfuls.

Business is a game. Are you playing to win?

Clashing opinions and a competitive environment, all played for high stakes, means The Traitors provides a familiar setting for those who are used to the challenges of today’s business landscape.

With five experienced business leaders seated at the roundtable, we’re due for an exciting month ahead. As the series develops, we’ll be able to see who sticks to a winning leadership strategy to emerge triumphant.

But whether deciphering the Traitors’ hidden agendas or forging alliances as Faithfuls, the ability to work together is the game’s best weapon.

The same is true in business. More than completing tasks; a successful organisation needs to build trust and camaraderie for positive client interactions, enhanced staff morale, and a productive work environment. Just keep an eye on your back, of course.

Written by:
Helena Young
Helena is Lead Writer at Startups. As resident people and premises expert, she's an authority on topics such as business energy, office and coworking spaces, and project management software. With a background in PR and marketing, Helena also manages the Startups 100 Index and is passionate about giving early-stage startups a platform to boost their brands. From interviewing Wetherspoon's boss Tim Martin to spotting data-led working from home trends, her insight has been featured by major trade publications including the ICAEW, and news outlets like the BBC, ITV News, Daily Express, and HuffPost UK.

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