6 Leadership Lessons from “The Walking Dead”

October 28, 2011

There is an awesome show on AMC called The Walking Dead, which is on Sunday nights at 9:00 PM (EST). The series is based off of a comic book (graphic novel) series of the same name. The show is rife with action, suspense, character development, and of course…walking zombies! (hence the title of the show). While the series is based on a fantastic premise of a zombie apocalypse, there are some real leadership lessons that can be learned from the show’s protagonists.

1. Be Prepared. As the characters learn quickly in the show, they need to be fully prepared in order to navigate around and avoid the zombies. They scavenge for supplies, create a plan of action ahead of time, and try to avoid the walking dead as much as possible.

So how does this relate to campus leadership? For instance, if you are planning a campus event you will not only want to layout plans for the day of the event, but you will want to create a game plan for the days and weeks leading up to the event as well as any wrap-up following the event. Think about ways you can keep track of schedules to keep your team moving toward the ultimate goal. Make assignments clear and establish deadlines.

2. Have a “Plan B.” The show would not be suspenseful and worth watching if there weren’t situations in which the characters end up trapped in zombie-filled cliff-hangers. However, they always seem to find a way out (granted, if they didn’t find a way out, there wouldn’t be a show to continue!) As is the case with #1 above (“Be Prepared”), you can never be over-prepared in planning for the unexpected.

When the day of your big event comes and your entertainer is stuck on the highway because his car broke down or the day of the big outdoor carnival the weather man is calling for three inches of rain, what is your back-up plan?  Brainstorm some “what if’s” ahead of time and decide how your group will handle some predictable situations. There are some things that you just cannot plan for. However, you can be resourceful and adaptive.  Seek guidance from your advisors and administrators.

3. Understand that Everyone Has Different Motivations. Obviously the main motivation for the characters in the show is to stay alive and to avoid the walking dead. However, there are the underlying motivations that drive the characterization: Sheriff Rick Grimes always needs to be the hero; Deputy Sheriff Shane Walsh is eager to win the affection of Rick’s wife, Lori; and Dale Horvath attempts to be the “father-figure” to establish his own legitimacy within the group.

Some of your team members will be completely devoted to the cause, some may be looking for a resume boost, some might be student workers, and others may be there to simply fullfill disciplinary requirements. Although all of your team members may have different reasons or motivations for being involved, they are still your greatest resource. By working with your team, you will discover their abilities and be able to manage the workload while playing to the team’s strengths. Maintain clear expectations, be fair with assignments and rewards, and find ways to keep the work fun and interesting.

4. Be an Advocate for All of Your Team Members. Rick Grimes always seems to be there for the people in his group. He cares about their safety and does his best to look out for those in the group that may not be as hardcore as he and Shane are. Be consistent and fair with all team members. Being a good leader means not playing favorites with friends over other group members. Include the entire team in achieving goals by considering members strengths and delegating attainable objectives. Reward your team with praise, notes of thanks, or small treats. Find ways to get your group recognized on campus or through national organizations for your achievements.

5. Realize That You Cannot Do It All By Yourself.

As illustrated in the show, Rick more often than not needs to rely on the members of the group in order to get out of zombie-filled situations. As a leader you are aware that “the buck stops here” and ultimately you are responsible for getting the job done. That does not translate into “No one else can do this as well as me.” Utilize your human resources. By allowing your team the ability to have input in creating goals, tasks, and scheduling, they will demonstrate more accountibility for the work. Promote one of your group members to “task master” and make that person responsible for keeping track of timetables and objectives.

6. Don’t Give Up!

“The Walking Dead” is compelling because it leaves you excited to see the next show. Rick and his group never give up against the zombies, which always ensures another show. Likewise, your group should always press on despite adversity and challenges. Be resourceful, be constructive, be adaptive, be collaborative, and most importantly, don’t give up until the goal is achieved.

What are some other leadership lessons you’ve spotted from “The Walking Dead?” Please feel free to share your comments.

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Being the “Fulcrum” of Teamwork

October 11, 2011

On Tuesday, September 13, 2011, a BMW pulled in front of a young man riding a motorcycle near Utah State University. The young man, Brandon Wright, had to lay down his bike in order to avoid hitting the car head-on. Unfortunately, he slid under the car and the motorcycle started on fire. Shortly after the crash, a man emerges and attempts to deadlift the BWM himself to free the young man trapped underneath.

Realizing that he cannot lift the vehicle himself, the man calls upon bystanders to help. Four men and one woman run over to the car and attempt to lift it. This second try does not work.

The man rallies more people to come and help instructing them to tip the car over on its side. Approximately 10 more individuals rush to assist, including a couple of construction laborers working nearby.

Finally after a final effort, the group is able to tip the car over enough so one of the construction workers can grab Brandon’s foot and drag him from the burning wreckage. You can view the complete video footage by clicking HERE.

The gentleman that rallies everyone together to accomplish this rescue serves as a perfect example of what I call the “fulcrum of teamwork.” A fulcrum is an individual that supports capability for action or plays a central or essential role in an activity, event, or situation. Providing the impetus for action and inspiring teamwork is the hallmark of being a leader.

While you will not normally face life or death situations like this one everyday, you can however be the fulcrum of teamwork within your own organization on a daily basis. Leaders are not simply bystanders who wait for things to happen around them. They are strategic, decisive, and act quickly to create results. It takes courage to be the fulcrum of teamwork, and if practiced enough, it can become a habit.

What are some other notable examples of the “fulcrum of teamwork” that you can share? Likewise, what are some personal examples in which you were the “fulcrum of teamwork” with your own organization?

Standing Out from the Crowd (Guest Post by Simon Jordan @TheSimonJordan)

October 10, 2011

In a world of high speed information and a billion-and-one options, we appear to live in a world of impatience and swimming in a sea of confusion so if you want to be seen and heard, you need to stand out from the crowd. Lady Gaga is a perfect example of this – love her or hate her you cannot fault that she does stand out from the crowd. Her weird outfits and videos provide the difference, but she does also have the singing ability to back up her craziness.

There are 5 things that we can learn from her:

1. Be different – Someone once said that if you do what everyone else does you’ll get what everyone gets.  Lady Gaga stands out from the rest of the pop world. Now I’m not suggesting wear an outfit made of meat, but I am saying that think how you can be different in order to stand out from the competition. Cut your own path in the world. Just because other people do things a certain way doesn’t mean it’s the right way for you.

2. Build a loyal following – Lady Gaga calls her fans her “little monsters.” They can relate to her and she relates to them. I recommend that you listen to what your audience are saying and provide content, products or services that relate to their needs. They will love you for it, and you can turn them into loyal followers or your own “little monsters.” But I wouldn’t suggest calling them that.

3. Be consistent – Lady Gaga is consistently different. She has created a strong and recognizable brand. If you’re starting a business you need to do the same. Being consistent is important. Consistence with your message and actions will help to build trust with your audience.

4. Have focus and a clear vision – Just like Lady Gaga, we need to have a clear and focused goal of what we want.

5. Keep going – Having read some of what happened to Lady Gaga, she could so easily have given up. If we want success then we can’t let giving up be an option.

The late great business speaker Jim Rohn, once said, “If you let doubt into your mind, it will empty your wallet, your work and your life.” And Winston Churchill once sai,d “Never, ever, ever, ever give up.” If you want something bad enough, you’ll do whatever you need to do in order to get it. Success is so much sweeter when you know you’ve had to work for it.

Keep these 5 points in mind and enjoy the journey

Written by Simon Jordan

Business Growth Coach. Author of the Amazon 5 star rated book – How to Sky Rocket Your Business (without burning your fingers), Host of Simon Jordan.TV and The Simon Jordan Radio Show and International Speaker.

 Want to know more about Simon? – visit his site here http://www.simonjordan.tv or http://www.gathermoreclients.com/blog

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