About the Author | Steven Foster, CMP, CTA
Managing Partner, Foster+Fathom

Steven Foster is One Man, on One Motorcycle with One Mission – to help others fuel their personal and professional lives with Passion, Power and Purpose; creating what he calls “Full-Throttle Leadership.” An award-winning speaker and writer, Steven is Managing Partner of Foster+Fathom, a Leadership Training and Team-Building company in Dallas, TX. Steven’s leadership principle is simple; “Your outlook always determines your outcome, so go “Full-Throttle.” That’s no surprise, considering he also is a Harley-Davidson LIFE member who in 2013 completed a 32, day, 34-state, 13,000-mile solo motorcycle ride along the perimeter of the US to raise awareness and support for America’s military; a journey he is chronicling in a new book project, “Full-Throttle Leadership: Passion, Power & Purpose.”

Visit Foster+Fathom online at

“There’s us and the dead. We survive this by pulling together, not apart.”

– Rick Grimes, The Walking Dead

I’m always looking for leadership lessons in the most unusual places; so why not on the AMC smash hit TV show, The Walking Dead? Set in a post-apocalyptic world, the show features a rag-tag band of survivors led by sheriff’s deputy Rick Grimes battling both zombies and other equally-dangerous survivors, in a world literally gone to hell. Each week, the survivors are constantly on the move in search of a safe haven, while trying to survive and adapt in dangerous surroundings.

There actually is much we can learn to guard against epic team massacres and devastating leadership collapses, from battling mindless zombies and double-crossing populations. I call it ZOMBIE LEADERSHIP, and like the Zombie Walkers, it is extremely unforgiving of inattention, ignorance and incompetence. To avoid having your team stumble around like a horde of the Un-Dead, consider these strategies to survive any Leadership Apocalypse:

#1 | Gear Up!

Everything begins with a plan based on an accurate assessment of your team’s Time, Talent and Treasure; so ask the right questions before venturing out. Where are you going? Who is responsible? What do you need? Then set REALISTIC roles and responsibilities for everyone involved.

“Success doesn’t necessarily come from breakthrough innovation but from flawless execution. A great strategy alone won’t win a game or a battle; the win comes from basic blocking and tackling.” – Naveen Jain 

#2 | Pay Attention to Your Surroundings

Now that you have a mission plan, focus on the environment. It’s ALWAYS changing. Just when you get too relaxed or secure in your surroundings; something always lunges out and bites you. Watch what’s moving around out there. The simple act of paying attention can take you a long way in the right direction.

#3 | Share the Load and the Lead

You don’t always have to be the leader. No one leads in every situation. Using the combined “Power of the Team” gives you more options; so inventory the strengths and limitations of the group to understand who is best at doing what and where you might need help. “We” will take you much further than “Me.”

#4 | Communication KILLS

Team communication always leads to one of two places; Community or Chaos. Watch Your Words.

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place” – George Bernard Shaw 

#5 | DO, or Get BIT!

Leadership is ACTION, not position. There is a very real possibility that sometime this year, an emergency of some kind will attempt to take apart the team. Hopefully you will see it coming, but that won’t always be the case. Indecision is every bit as toxic as a Zombie virus. It can run through an organization and destroy its will to win or even to survive.

#6 | Once Bit, Let ‘Em Go

There may come a time when a team member isn’t performing, slowing progress and hurting the overall effort. If someone is so worn out that they just can’t do it anymore, you might have to let them go in order to keep the team moving forward. It’s painful, but not as painful as being slowed to the point where even more people might get bit!

#7 | Never trust a Zombie

Trust is the greatest weapon in any team arsenal. No team survives without it. Being surrounded by a bunch of untrustworthy “biters” is terrifying and will tear a team apart faster than any zombie horde. 

#8 | Adapt and Survive

Sometimes you need to retreat, regroup and re-engage. Your strategy must be focused, but also flexible. To survive you need to be prepared for anything; work as a team, share leadership, be patient, evaluate, respond and stand.

The goal of Zombie Leadership is to SURVIVE!

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