Who remembers Chuck E. Cheese or Showtime Pizza? These entertainment centers had anthropomorphic characters who entertained children while they dined on pizza or played arcade games. More than that, these two restaurants appear to be the inspiration for some of the characters in the Five Nights At Freddy’s video game and now a movie.
Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza resembles these pizza chains in an eery way. While Chuck E. Cheese and Showtime Pizza both had a creepy vibe to them, Five Nights At Freddy’s takes it to a whole new level.
What’s the premise behind Five Nights At Freddy’s movie? A down-on-his-luck man, Mike (Josh Hutcherson), is trying to find a job. He has to take care of his sister, Abby (Piper Rubio), after their mother passes away and their father leaves. He goes to a career counselor, Steve Raglan (Matthew Lillard), for a job placement. Steve recommends he try a night security position at the now-defunct Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza.
Mike is hesitant as he has to take care of his sister. Eventually, he caves. He takes the job only to discover Freddy Fazbear’s is filled with horror.
With Halloween right around the corner, I felt this would be a great movie to use for a Reel Leadership article. I hope you enjoy it and aren’t too scared to learn leadership principles from Five Nights At Freddy’s!
Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Five Nights At Freddy’s
1. Our escape plans won’t always work:
Early in Five Nights At Freddy’s, a security guard (Ryan Reinike) flees the security room after the anthropomorphic characters come to life and try to attack him. He enters into an air vent to access another room.
Big problem. There’s trouble waiting for him there as one of the characters is waiting for him there. The guard is taken to the safe room, where he’s tortured and killed.
Switching jobs is normal now. People hop from one position to the next. They often leave a bad job, hoping the next job will be better.
This happens in leadership as well. We move from job to job, hoping the next one will be more stable, more hospitable, or have more benefits.
What happens is similar to what happens to the security guard in Five Nights At Freddy’s. We hop from one job to another that’s just as bad, if not worse.
Be careful that you’re not moving from bad to worse when you try to escape your organization.
2. Get more information before you act:
Mike is at a mall ice cream shop. He’s chatting it up with the female cashier when he sees a young boy standing by a garbage can. A man comes up and pulls the boy away.
What happens next is tragic. Mike springs into action. He saw something that looked wrong and had to react, right?
He chases the boy and man down. Rushing the man, the pair fall into the mall fountain, where Mike beats the man senseless.
It’s all good, right? Mike saved the day.
Mike acted on the information on hand. He thought he saw a kidnapping. What he really saw was a frustrated dad getting his son to move. He beats the young boy’s dad in front of the boy.
Leaders are often like Mike. They get a piece of information here or there. They spring into action.
The problem: The information is incomplete. They don’t have the whole story.
Instead of doing something well, the leader causes an issue by acting rashly, brashly, and errantly.
Before acting, make sure you have more information.
3. Steve Raglan:
I’m just trying to figure out who you are.
Steve is the career counselor Mike had been going to while seeking a job (though we discover he’s much more sinister than a career counselor). He goes over Mike’s record and sees disturbing trends.
Mike had jumped from job to job. His employment history was filled with short-term employment.
It didn’t look good for Mike. Yet, Steve asked him questions to try to get to know him better.
When you hire someone on your team, do you try to figure out who they are? Or are they just another cog in the wheel? A person to fill an open spot?
Great leaders (though Steve was not a great leader) try to figure out who they’re hiring. They want to know their skills, talents, desires, and more so they can best be utilized by the organization.
Get to know your people.
4. Rude leaders alienate everyone:
Aunt Jane (Mary Stuart Masterson) wanted guardianship of Abby. She believed she could do a better job raising her than Mike. Neither Mike nor Abby wanted Aunt Jane to be Abby’s guardian but there were legal threats and Mike had to consider it.
Aunt Jane threatened Mike. She said if Mike wouldn’t sign over guardianship of Abby, she and her lawyer, Doug (Michael P. Sullivan), would take him to court.
In this comedic scene, you could see even Doug didn’t like Aunt Jane. Her rudeness had alienated someone she was paying well.
Our attitudes toward our employees matter. Treat them well and they will love you. Treat them poorly and they will despise you.
Drop the attitude. You know how to treat people well. Treat them that way.
5. Vanessa (Elizabeth Lail):
You doing alright this night?
Vanessa was a local cop who patrolled the area near the closed Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza. She stopped by on Mike’s first night and continued to stop by. We also learn there’s more to Vanessa as the movie progresses, but these additional facts don’t play into this lesson.
Mike had fallen asleep. In his dreams at Freddy Fazber’s, he would see young children after his brother Garrett (Lucas Grant) was kidnapped. It’s a dream he repeatedly has as he tries to figure out who kidnapped his brother.
There were five young children in these dreams. A blonde boy (Grant Feely), a boy with a hook (Asher Colton Spence), a boy with bunny ears (David Huston Doty), a boy with a hat (Liam Hendrix), and a blue-eyed girl (Jophielle Love). In one of the dreams, the boy with a hook slashes Mike’s arm.
He awakes and doesn’t notice anything wrong. Vanessa arrives and sees that he’s bleeding. She proceeds to patch him up when she asks him a question. She wants to know if Mike is alright.
Leaders need to do regular check-ins with their employees. Ask a simple question like “Are you doing alright?” or “How are things going?”
These questions can open up the employee to the point they might share a struggle or challenge you can help them overcome.
Don’t be afraid to ask more about your employees.
Abby opens a drawer and finds paperwork about terminating Mike’s guardianship of her. She’s taken about. She’s angry.
Abby asks Mike why he has them if he’s not getting rid of her. Mike answers that it’s complicated.
This didn’t sit well with Abby. She didn’t understand why Mike would have something like this if he wasn’t going to give her up. Yet, it was complicated.
There are situations in leadership that are flat-out complicated. Decisions have to be made, but they’re not cut or dry.
Be aware of the complicated situations. Work through them. Help others understand them as well.
7. Our stories can help people understand us:
Mike had hired a babysitter named Max (Kat Conner Sterling) to watch Abby while he worked. Little did Mike know that Max was actually a spy for his Aunt Jane. She wanted to pin something bad on Mike.
Aunt Jane and Doug encouraged Max and her friends, Jeff (David Lind), Hank (Christian Stokes), and Carl (Joseph Poliquin) to break into Freddy Fazbears. This would make Mike look bad and lose his job.
During the break-in, the animatronics came to life and killed the never-do-wells.
Vanessa came to the scene. She found Mike’s sleeping pills. She confronted Mike and told him she didn’t think he was fit to be a security guard there.
Mike defended himself. He shared his story of trying to find his brother’s killer. This story helped Vanessa understand him and give him leeway.
Our stories aren’t always happy stories. They involve love, hatred, fear, anger, sadness, and more.
While the stories may not always be happy, they contain fragments of our lives that can connect with others. Don’t be afraid to share your stories with others.
If you can share the struggles and challenges you’ve overcome in the past, the people you lead will be able to better understand you.
8. Don’t be a leader who falls asleep:
Max didn’t show up to watch Abby (we know why!). Mike couldn’t leave Abby at their house alone. He brings her to Freddy Fazbears for the night.
Before taking sleeping pills, Mike tells Abby she isn’t to leave the security room. Once Mike is asleep, Abby leaves the room.
She wanders the rooms of Freddy Fazbears. In one of those rooms, Abby encounters the animatronics. They are:
- Bonnie, the rabbit
- Foxy, the pirate
- Chica, the chicken
- Freddy Fazbear, the bear
The animatronics surround Abby. It looks like it’s the end for her. But it’s not…
Mike fell asleep on the job. He should have been watching the restaurant and his little sister. He didn’t, and that placed her in danger.
When we, as leaders, fall asleep on the job, we place our organization in danger. We have to be awake, alert, and ready when leading.
Don’t fall asleep on the job.
9. Our stories are more connected than we think:
Vanessa found Mike injured. She took him to a safe house, where she helped patch him up.
There, Vanessa told Mike she tried to warn him about the place. Mike hadn’t listened, and it put him and Abby in danger.
More than that, Vanessa told them how they were connected. She let Mike know that her father, William Afton (Mike had met him under his assumed name of Steve Raglan! Dun dun dun) and owner of Freddy Fazbear’s, was the kidnapper of Garrett. The two were more connected than he could have imagined.
The same goes for the people we lead. Whether our connection is through someone else we know, a previous employer, or growing up, we’re far more connected than we know.
I had this happen the morning after I wrote this article. We had a guest speaker, Jeremy Goodwin, at our church preach the message. He shared his story of trauma, and boy did it connect. His message helped others know that they are not alone.
10. The truth will set people free:
Vanessa’s dad also went by the name The Yellow Rabbit. He had control over the other animatronics at Freddy Fazbear’s. They believed he helped them. In reality, The Yellow Rabbit had kidnapped them, killed them, and put them into the robots.
Abby drew a picture of what really happened. She let the animatronics see this. Once they saw the truth, they turned on The Yellow Rabbit.
Their eyes were opened and they were no longer under his control.
Some leaders think they can get away with misleading, deceiving, or flat-out lying to their team. This works for a while.
Until their eyes are opened.
Once trust is broken with a team, it’s hard to recover.
The truth will set your people free. Make sure that the truth is on your side.