Friday the 13 “spooky” leadership lessons for October

Living in Texas, I do miss out on some of the delightful aspects of October from childhood. The crinkle of leaves, burning firewood, and the brisk night air is replaced by just… moist hot. However, I can still sneak away from being an adult to rewatch all my favorite horror movies to enjoy the season. So to stay in the holiday spirit here are 13 leadership lessons on Friday.

1. The most significant challenge is never really expected

None of the characters go into a story expecting machetes, hatches, or claws. They have entirely different concerns and goals. Looking back at my most significant challenges every single one seemed to come from nowhere as I was more concerned with other things. Running through bizarre scenarios is a very beneficial tool for rapidly dispatching mundane challenges.

2. Don’t split up

Perhaps the cardinal rule. Tempting because a team can cover much more ground but a loner is more likely to get stuck in something way over their head. Try to keep at least two people on essential projects to support each other. Going it alone? You might lose them and much more.

3. The people in charge need incredibly compelling evidence

One of the most prominent tropes in horror is that the parents and police don’t listen. While it makes sense for a moody teenager label others dumb, we all understand that an immortal unkillable machine is quite an extraordinary claim. The turning point is always when compelling evidence (usually a body count or seeing the monster). Always use strong proof when appealing to stakeholders to make a decision.

4. Resourcefulness is key; Silver bullets fail

Unfortunately, silver bullets are a one-stop solution only in movies. Even when used they rarely have the intended effect, and the heroes resort to their incredible resourcefulness with the tools and supplies they have. Often jerry-rigging something to help hold the monster at bay or make a daring escape. Just skip the bullet. Use what you have around you instead of trying to get something with impossible requirements.

5. Learning is critical

Always be willing to learn from your mistakes. Predictably approaching a problem because that’s how it was done in the past can leave your team open to some harsh realities in a changing environment.

6. Somebody always warns of the impending danger

There always seems to be warning signs of impending doom that seem apparent in hindsight. News reports about increases in phishing attacks during the holidays, the release of new exciting codes, or even grandma talking about her friend losing her retirement to fraud. We can’t dwell on everything but consider that there is some underlying truth in statements.

7. Your competition is evolving, so should you

Nothing will continue to work forever. If there is no innovation, you will be leading a group forward to the future but back into the zombie-filled catacombs. Without making changes to explore and exploit new opportunities the team will stagnate.

8. Simple is good

The most complicated plans can be put to shame if everything doesn’t line up. Sometimes the most straightforward solutions are the most effective.

9. Take care of yourself

You can’t show leadership if you are out of action. Overworking a body is almost as silly as running away from an ax murderer in heels. Eat healthy food, exercise, spend time with loved ones and on hobbies. Make sure you are ready for work each day.

10. Watch your hubris

More humanistic monsters often make broad generalizing statements condoning their mayhem. A solution that makes sense for one variation has a danger of being applied too broadly.

11. You find out your real companions when everything goes wrong

If team members are suddenly disappearing to leave you to face the problem alone, they will probably run away from every challenge. Not physically but through a deluge of excuses and rationalizations. It is best to sort out who will have the courage to face problems head-on and help the team despite the circumstances.

12. Understand whats behind the mask

Masks are used to portray what we want others to see. We all present a side of ourselves when we go to work, and we often miss unique aspects of our peers. Try to peel back the mask a little bit to see hidden talents or motivations. You can find a secret rockstar passionate about a direction you have never considered.

13. The problem never dies

You can’t just kill a problem. Sure you can slow it down and incapacitate it, but when you turn your back, it will rise again. There are always going to be new iterations of the problem that keeps popping up and evolving. The most important defense is to learn and apply what you know in the past so that you can better deal with the problem next time.

Hope everyone had a few moments to think about how their favorite horror stories and how those lessons, as fantastical as they are, can provide a tool for your leadership toolbox!

Have a Happy Halloween!