13 Frightening Faces of Leadership

Have you stocked up on garlic and holy water? Is there plenty of candy prepared by your door? Got the tune of Michael Jackson's, 'Thriller' stuck in your head? It's All-Hallow's Eve and the ghosts and goblins will be out in force tonight!

I love Halloween. It's an evening of contradictions. Tricksters are encouraged to pull out all the stops. The most innocent among us dress in terrifying costumes to celebrate things that go bump in the night. Parents encourage children to go door-to-door and take candy from strangers. There's nothing quite so ironic as the beauty of a fall evening infused with the spine tingling chill of a good scary story and a well carved pumpkin Ichabod Crane would be honored to wear!

On this night of contradictions and terrifying tales what if we examined leadership through a more macabre lens? In the spirit of the evening let's make a game out of it. I've named 13 Frightening Faces of Leadership. You'll see the Trick - the problem with this kind of leader, and the Treat - the silver bullet that will drive a stake into the heart of the vile creature within. Take a look at the list, pick your monster and tell us your trick & treat!

The Jack-o'-Lantern Leader -
TRICK: The Jack-'o-Lantern Leader looks good on the outside, but there's nothing of substance on the inside. That toothy, smiling face shines in the darkness and entices some to follow for a little while, but give it a month, and the rotten ideas are exposed for what they really are. TREAT: This is the heart of Character-based Leadership. When you lead, what's in you is what will come out. Don't just put on a good face and a good show. Be someone worth following.

The Bats in the Belfry Leader -
TRICK: This leader is so erratic in their decision making that followers are literally driven insane trying to keep up. What's the mission? How will we accomplish it? What's passing for truth today? What the leader calls a new adventure every day is really a lack of vision prompted by a lack of focus. TREAT: Pick a mission, choose a method, cast a vision and stick to it. No matter how shiny that new toy is, if it doesn't accomplish the mission it's not worth playing with.

The Graveyard Leader -
TRICK: You remember the creepy night-watchman? He works alone for a reason. He uses that shovel to bury everyone else's ideas because he believes they're dead on arrival. He's done this job for 40 years and no young whippersnapper is going to tell him there's another way. TREAT: This kind of leadership needs to be laid to rest. If you haven't noticed, everyone is one Google search away from being an expert on almost anything. No one holds the corner market on brilliance. Listen to the people around you. They know things you don't.

The Frankenstein Leader -
TRICK: Related to the Graveyard Leader, the Frankenstein Leader knows the power of a team. They go to the graveyard to dig up buried ideas and try to spark new life into them. They 'borrow' from everyone else and try to stitch together something they can call their own. The result? A monstrous and grotesque facsimile of the original. TREAT: Your organization doesn't need partially digested, wholly regurgitated ideas. They don't need you to mimic the bits and pieces of every other similar organization around you. They need your dream, your passion, the fire in your belly for how the world can be a better place. There's only one Apple. There's only one Disney. There's only one Chic-fil-A. Learn what you can from them, but be yourself.

The Zombie Leader -
: Angry, relentless, unreasonable, cannibalistic - the Zombie Leader doesn't have any real direction, they simply have a bone to pick - literally. Everyone in their path is a target. In the end this kind of leader isn't really moving his organization forward as much as he is satisfying his own appetites. What's worse is that this self-serving appetite spreads like a virus destroying other healthy leaders in the organization or turning them into the same kind of selfish monster as the original zombie. TREAT: There's really only two effective treatments for this kind of leader - RUN or FIGHT. Either get out of the organization or get this kind of leader out. It's a virus that will kill or be killed. The freemium business model is proving that some selfish people and selfish organizations are leaving money on the table every time they charge upfront for their product. Give something away - give yourself away and discover the remarkable value you gain from irrational generosity. (For rules to help survive a real Zombie apocalypse, check here.)

Now that you've gotten the hang of it, it's your turn. Pick one of the 13 Frightening Faces of Leadership and tell us how you would rid the world of this menace.

  1. The Jack-0'-Lantern Leader
  2. The Bats in the Belfry Leader
  3. The Graveyard Leader
  4. The Frankenstein Leader
  5. The Zombie Leader
  6. The Vampire Leader
  7. The Wolfman Leader
  8. The Witch Leader
  9. The Clown Leader
  10. The Ghost Leader
  11. The Blob Leader
  12. The Freddy Krueger Leader
  13. and perhaps the scariest of them all - The Justin Bieber Leader

Be careful, you know how scary movies end. Just when you think you've dispatched the evil and as you ride off into the sunset with your true love the camera pans down to show the monster's body has disappeared or twitching back to life - Halloween comes around every year. If we're not careful these 13 Frightening Faces of Leadership will show their ugly fangs once again.

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