12 Most Memorable Leadership Lessons From Charlie Brown
November, to me, always seems to be the start of the holiday season. Before the turkey even hits the table consumers are already doing their Christmas shopping. Many are already thnking about the Black Friday sales.
It is easy to be cynical and think only of the commercialism associated with the winter holidays. This season marks something more hopeful and child-like. Yep, those good old animated classics with Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Reindeer.
I am not going to write about them though, because there is one that means more to me than all the others. The hallmark of the season is “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” I am looking forward to watching it again this year and remembering what I’ve learned from that block head. Sometimes it takes the eyes of a child to see what is really important. These are 12 leadership lessons I have learned from the Peanuts gang.
Charlie Brown always took his chance to kick the football. He didn’t let his previous failures deter him. Leaders will sometimes fail, but they take action when they encounter new opportunities for success.
Snoopy began all his novels with, “It was a dark and stormy night.” This comedic riff became a classic Peanuts joke. It reminds us that leaders revise,but aren’t afraid to write that lousy first draft.
When the Peanuts gang gets together we get great moments like the Christmas dance that has become iconic of the series. Leaders know how to keep their teams motivated by creating a joyful atmosphere. An example of this practice is Ben & Jerry’s “Joy Gang” formed in 1987.
Charlie Brown rarely came across as a confident leader, but he always managed to pull the group together in a crunch. In “Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown” he gets the kids out of a dire situation by taking charge. Leaders often are individuals willing to take responsibility in a crisis.
The character of Woodstock was mute,but we always knew his intentions. His actions spoke volumes. Leaders project an aura you can sense without the need for words.
The adults in the world of Charlie Brown could not be understood by readers. In the TV specials their voices were represented by the familiar “wah,wah,wah” sound. To effectively lead one muct be able to clearly communicate with the team.
Leaders respect their followers and foster loyalty between the group members. One of the most endearing traits of the Peanuts gang is their friendship. They band together when trouble appears.
Lucy’s entrepreneurial spirit led her to a psychiatric practice. The sign on her booth read, “The Doctor is In” and we knew that she would be there to listen. While Lucy rarely gave good advice, she did hear the kids out just like a leader must do with his supporters.
A leader accepts his followers and what they have to offer. Linus and his security blanket are just as welcome as Pigpen’s cloud of dust. Each Peanuts character has their foibles,but they still belong to the group.
Most of my favorite strips featured one character. I loved reading about Snoopy’s adventures as the flying ace dueling with the Red Baron. Great leaders have an imagination and creativity that can envision what seems impossible to others.
No leader can lead without supporters. You need a network willing to work on your ideas and recruit others to the cause. The relationship of Peppermint Patty and Marcy is an enduring reminder of the importance of a devotee.
“You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” was the name of the musical based on the original strip. Chuck knew despite his struggles he had done the best he could with the cards dealt. Leaders too have this internal compass that directs their behaviors towards their goals.
Charles M. Schulz passed away at the beginning of 2000 and left an American legacy. He produced 17,897 individual comic strips, which are slowy being released as the complete Peanuts collection. He himself was a leader in his industry and would inspire other cartoonists such as Bloom County’s author Berkeley Breathed. In honor of his contributions, he was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Few kids will forget the Peanuts gang and their quirks. I remember watching one of the movies as a child so often that I damaged the VHS tape. Do you watch the Charlie Brown specials with your children? What lessons have you learned? Add your thoughts and insights in the comments section.
Featured image courtesy by Chang’r licensed via Creative Commons.