3 Leadership Lessons From Halloween

On mounting a rising ground, which brought the figure of his fellow-traveler in relief against the sky, gigantic in height, and muffled in a cloak, Ichabod was horror-struck on perceiving that he was headless!–but his horror was still more increased on observing that the head, which should have rested on his shoulders, was carried before him on the pommel of his saddle!
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
Washington Irving

When I was a kid one of my favorite times of year was Halloween. Whether it was the crisp autumn breezes, the amazing decorations, or scary movies – or maybe it was just all about the candy – it was always synonymous with great times! While the ghosts and goblins prowl the graveyards, and children all over the country prepare to head out to claim their Halloween booty, we can use lessons learned from this holiday to improve our leadership and Customer service! That’s right, even Halloween can help us develop muscle memory to improve ourselves as leaders and servants to our Guests

Here are the 3 leadership and Customer service lessons I learned from Halloween:

Accountability Matters: There’s no better way to make sure we are delivering amazing customer service than to be accountable for it. This was something I realized as I watched trick-or-treaters walk through the neighborhood in search of candy. It was easy for them to be demanding as they were safely hidden in costume. Or have you ever seen how children behave when folks leave candy outside in a bowl with a sign requesting visitors to “Take One Only Please”? We all know that candy will be gone in 15 minutes. It’s important that our Front Line Associates understand the rules, expectations, and that there could be consequences for underperformance. Now that isn’t to say we should always lead with the stick, as I believe that leading with the Tootsie Roll will get us much more in the long run. But ultimately we have a duty to hold our teams accountable and inspect our expectations regularly. After all, if we don’t guide our teams and give them candid feedback, they’ll never achieve our Guest’s expectations.

Which leads me to my next point: You’ll Get Further With Treats Than You Will With Tricks: That is really by way of saying that we have to make sure we don’t neglect the recognition. When I was growing up, the neighborhood kids would egg houses that didn’t decorate for Halloween or give out good candy. Oddly enough, it didn’t make them any more likely to get into the spirit the next year. How does this tie back to our teams? Simple. We can’t hit our folks over the head with rules, regulations, and processes continuously and expect them to want to improve. They are certainly important, but you can’t lead with them. Remember, the Great Pumpkin is watching and he is encouraging you to jump in the middle and lead from the center. Our teams are so hungry for leadership that they’ll soak up any training or feedback you throw their way. Rules are important and are necessary for a productive workplace, but inspiring great behaviors makes the rules almost unnecessary.

Diversity is Not Optional: As I watched the trick-or-treaters walk through the neighborhoods, I was taken by the sheer diversity of their costumes. Where else can you see a Harley Quinn followed by an Optimus Prime followed by Darth Vader and finally Snoopy. What an amazing opportunity to watch diversity in action – and we can all learn from that. Diversity is so often pigeonholed into a couple of very specific buckets. Better to take a holistic approach to diversity where we consider diversity of thought, ideas, and backgrounds as well as the standard measures. This is a powerful thing to consider, as it will give you a competitive edge in both innovation and execution. Customers will notice right away that you are always on top of industry trends and standards because you have so many people, with so many great ideas, so much of the time! And you can only achieve this kind of magic when you have a diverse team which is in lockstep with your Guests’ expectations and needs (and know how to work together to win).

The principle I want to share here is that we should always be on the lookout for ways to make ourselves better.  Each day we are presented with experiences that can teach us much about how to serve our Guests and lead our teams more effectively.

Leadership and Customer Service go hand in hand, so steeping ourselves deeply in both can make us successful.  Leadership is the fuel that can propel our service to new levels today and far into the future.

With that in mind, stay vigilant for errant witches and vampires, and remember to treat every Guest as a cherished friend.

Tony

Tony Johnson
Customer Service Expert | Author | Trainer | Speaker

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About The Author

Tony Johnson

I’m a 22 year veteran of delivering terrific Guest experiences. I believe in putting the Customer at the center of what we do everyday. . .Let’s face it, if we take great care of our Guests, the rest just falls into place.