Last night The Walking Dead season 5 premiered on AMC. The Walking Dead has taken the world by storm with it’s griping story and zombie story lines.
While I wasn’t able to catch the season premier, I have been reading through The Walking Dead comic book series.
The Walking Dead comics have a different storyline than the AMC TV series. So I’m not sure where the TV series is in regards to the comic books but I’ve found myself quickly reading through the books and being drawn in.
I also saw leadership lessons in The Walking Dead: Volume 1 and thought I’d share the leadership lessons I took away with you. Hope you enjoy this session of pop-culture leadership.
1. The world changes quickly: Rick, the main protagonist in The Walking Dead, is the sheriff of a small town. During a police shootout, Rick is wounded and winds up in the hospital.
When Rick wakes he, he finds the world much different than when he first went in. His world changed quickly.
Our world changes quickly, much like Rick’s did (Except we aren’t seeing zombies popping up). We’ve got to be prepared for the quick changes and learn to pivot when we see the changes coming at us.
2. Friends are important: Rick leaves the hospital and heads to his home. There, he discovers a man and his son squatting next door. While they didn’t start off on friendly terms, Rick and this family join forces to get the essentials to survive.
Many leaders make the mistake of trying to lead alone. They think it’s all about being the Lone Ranger. However, great leaders can’t survive without a healthy network and friends. Don’t neglect your friends, they’ll be the ones that stick by you til the end.
3. Don’t make hasty decisions: As Rick and Morgan are leaving the old police station after gathering supplies, the two men are surprised by a zombie rattling a chain link fence. Rick makes a hasty decision and draws his gun, ready to blow the zombie away.
Morgan, having had more experience, calms Rick down and talks him out of shooting the zombie. Having done so would have drawn the attention of more zombies, something they didn’t want to happen.
The choices you make as a leader have an impact. We may have to make quick decisions but you can’t be hasty. You’ve got to process what’s going on and the consequences of those choices.
4. Old technology can beat out new technology: The choice was made by Rick to leave the town and search out survivors. Driving away, his car runs out of gas and he no longer has quick transportation.
He then comes upon a house that has a horse. The horse could be considered old technology but it works for him.
In our world, it’s easy to quickly dismiss old technology that still works in favor of the new and shiny technology. Don’t be so quick to toss out the old. See if it has value and decide whether or not to continue to use it.
5. You have more in you than you know: After entering the big city, Rick is attacked by zombies. He is rescued by a young man named Glenn who helps him escape.
Only there’s a problem. They have to run across rooftops and jump over a large gap. Rick believes he can’t make the jump but in the end does.
Leadership will require extraordinary resolve and push us to our limits. You will be up against issues you never thought you could conquer. But, just like Rick, you can overcome your fears and discover you’re stronger than you thought.
6. People change: There are other survivors in The Walking Dead world. Rick is led back to the gang of survivors where he’s reunited with his family and an old friend. Only the old friend isn’t too happy to have Rick back.
Over time, people change. That’s a fact of life. This may mean you lose a valuable employee or you have to let go a former mentor.
7. We all have our stories: In the early comics of The Walking Dead, we begin to hear the back stories of many of the current cast of characters. They all come from different walks of life and have different life experiences.
Because of these differences, the characters don’t always get along and they also react differently to the zombie apocalypse.
Keep in mind that the people you’re leading are all different and they all have a story to tell. Treat them all with respect but also be willing to lead them in the ways they need to be led.
8. Disagreements happen: The people in the camp begin to take lessons on shooting guns. Rick believes it would be wise to show his son how to shoot a gun. His wife, Lori, on the other hand, believes it’s a horrible choice.
Your team won’t always agree with the decisions you make. This doesn’t mean you don’t make decisions but be sure to consult your team. The disagreements will come less frequent when you try to get the buy-in of others.
The Walking Dead isn’t for everyone. There’s violence and language. It’s a dirty world they live in (but isn’t ours as well?).
Yet, from my experience, I was able to draw out leadership lessons that I hope will help you lead in this hectic world.