As Halloween approaches, many of us will be planning for parties and wondering what costume to wear. The festival marks the religious feast of ‘all hallows’ eve’ which is more commonly known in Christian communities as ‘all souls day’. It’s a day to remember the dead which is why it is linked to ghosts, ghouls and all things spooky.
It’s not clear whether this day has arisen from harvest festivals and pagan roots or if it was Christian all along. Celtic customs and beliefs are said to have had an influence – for example, the Welsh used to hold a festival called ‘calan gaeaf’ which was held on the 31st October to celebrate the beginning of winter. However it came about, this is typically the time of year that we enjoy activities such as pumpkin carving, apple bobbing, trick or treating and costume parties.
You might wonder what Halloween has to do with leadership but there a number of things that we can learn from this celebration of the supernatural.
1. Be yourself – Halloween is about dressing up in a clever disguise. This is great for a night of fun but if you are constantly pretending to be someone else as a leader, this will be noticed by others and impact your credibility, hindering your ability to develop trust in relationships. It takes a lot of energy to pretend so the mask could slip, revealing you as a fake. The best thing you can do as a leader is be yourself – even if you are a little ghoulish! People will respect you more for letting your imperfections show.
2. Be vulnerable – Dressing up in a silly outfit and leaving the house takes confidence. Leaders should have the confidence to be vulnerable. This is the very heart of authenticity as it takes confidence to reveal a part of you that might usually prefer to keep to yourself. Your team will respond well to you as an individual if you are able to reveal a fun centre and allow yourself to dress up in a Halloween costume.
3. Be engaging – an engaged team works harder because they want to achieve and succeed. The great thing about Halloween is that many people do engage and participate. If you can bring in a little Halloween magic into the workplace, you can develop a high performing team.
4. Be fun! – I’ve written about this before and I believe in it fully. Having fun for me is a central part of leadership. I want my team to enjoy their work which means finding the fun in the job that must be done (remember Mary Poppins?). If people enjoy what they do, they will do more of it and I certainly want my team to do as much as they possibly can! Fun is a great morale booster so celebrate every festival and allow them to loosen up from time to time.
Finally, another Halloween trend taking the U.S. by storm is the creation of a ‘Trumpkin’. In the run up to the election, pumpkins everywhere are being carved in to replicas of the man himself. We also saw a few carved Clintons during our recent tour of Massachusetts. Perhaps this is a trend we can adopt here in the UK with imitations of Theresa May, Boris Johnson or Jeremy Corbyn. If you do decide to recreate your favourite leader in a pumpkin fashion, be sure to share with me on Twitter @ChristineB_OS
You may also be interested to read my post Leadership is… which considers the importance of fun in leading others.