What Halloween Teaches Us About Leadership

Halloween celebrations have changed dramatically in my lifetime. We used to carve a pumpkin and go get some candy. Now, neighbors decorate like it’s Christmas, parties happen for weeks, and the kids still get candy.

Why has Halloween become so big? What need does modern Halloween meet?

I see two: Our need for celebration and connection. 

Much of life is a grind. Get up. Go to work. Come home. Grab groceries. Do chores. Take out the garbage. Mow the yard. Cook dinner. Wash the dishes. This grind wears on our emotional and relational vitality. 

Halloween creates an opportunity for humans to celebrate and have fun.

Most nights, when I walk my dog, I see the familiar blue glow emanating from many houses as nightly TV programming fills the evening hours.

Halloween is different. People are sitting on their steps. Their fire pits are in the front yard. They engage with kids over their costumes. People are connecting.

So what does this have to do with leadership?

As we work on Leadercast 2023: Human Intelligence, we use different phrases to describe it. “In a world that’s gone digital, leadership is still about human intelligence.” 

I like that one because I have a task orientation. I want to get things done. But leadership is about more than getting tasks done. It is about leading people with hopes, dreams, ambitions, and struggles. 

Leadership is about people who need celebration and connection. 

Here are some pointers from Halloween as you work on celebrating and connecting.

  • Every person connects and celebrates differently.

After collecting the candy, the kids swap candy—each taking their favorite kind. 

Some people love parties. Others love meaningful notes. Some enjoy the applause. Others appreciate a Starbucks gift card.

Listen to your people and figure out what they appreciate. Then write it down so you remember.

  • It takes time.

My neighbors spend countless hours decorating their homes. I don’t, so their house is much more festive.

Celebrations and connections take time. You will need to block out that time and make it a priority.

  • It’s worth it. 

More connections were made last night in my neighborhood than in the entire month of October. Today, people feel more of a part of the community and have a positive memory.

Spending the time and energy to create connections and celebrations will always reap the rewards in the long run. 


Brian Rutherford

Brian Rutherford is Director of Content and Product Strategy for Leadercast. Brian has been telling stories professionally for twenty-five years. Stories that inspire people to see themselves and the world differently. Stories that challenge people to take meaningful action in the world.

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