Life Lessons from TV: Management and the Walking Dead

Rick-Grimes-the-walking-dead-32337701-595-397Maybe it is a bit far-fetched, but I got to thinking about the question of leadership on the Walking Dead and figured there might be a blog post there relating to management skills. Currently, the show has two leaders: Rick Grimes (the one character present from the very beginning of the show) and the Governor (introduced this season). They have some similarities in terms of the level of violence they are able to dispense, but they have completely different management styles. Rick is more (well, until recently anyway) of a democratic leader seeking approval and advice from other folks in the group and rarely steeping to manipulation to get his way. Other than his brief breaks in sanity, he is relatively easy to read and you want to trust him. He keeps several people close (currently Herschel, Glenn, and Daryl) and keeps the rest of the group informed of the current status and the work to be done. His leadership has been challenged at several moments (like by his son last week), but when it comes to a clutch situation (such as the Governor’s attack two weeks ago), his is back in full. Under stress, he becomes a bit paranoid (and actually loses it in front of Tyreese’s group) but he is still all about protecting his own and taking on the danger whenever necessary to preserve that delicate shelter. On the negative side, he is, well, a bit on the crazy side these days, and his is quite vindictive. Not as much as Glenn, but perhaps as Carl said, he needs a rest to get it all together. Unfortunately, rest is not really an option in the zombie apocalypse (as long as you aren’t hiding in a mall or a bunker like in the Romero films and even then…)

The-Walking-Dead-Episode-3-03-Walk-With-Me-Promotional-Photos-the-walking-dead-32430500-595-396The Governor is of an entirely different cloth. He is the manipulative manager. He keeps only Milton close but regularly lies to him (and nearly everyone else – even Andrea). He plays the good cop-bad cop alternatively depending on the situation and is highly unreliable. The false sense of security that he built at Woodbury is still impressive in that he was able to keep the outside hell at bay, so there is something to be said here about the efficacy of tyranny perhaps. That being said, things are held in place via terror: terror of the outside fed by the zombie fights and the paranoid stories of everyone on the outside. The one positive thing going for him is the regular meetings he would hold in the town, this gave people a (false?) sense of security and stability. Now that the shit is going to hit the fan, we will see how long that screen holds up.

walking_dead_rick_gov_promoObviously, the management style of Rick is far preferable to that of the Governor. Now, perhaps the Governor (up to his direct attacks on the prison folks and the aftermath) has had better results (less losses, more arms, more stable living conditions, more food, etc) than Rick who has already gotten a dozen or more killed from the group (always by recklessness or bad luck – never intentionally) and abandonded two safe houses (soon to be three I am sure), but I don’t think that anyone in the group is at risk. On the other hand, the Governor is ready to put asthmatic kids on the front line of the war against the prison – he has a far more ruthless nature that is no longer held in check by his zombie-daughter and his head-aquarium-wall. There are only a handful of episodes left to see how this all plays out but I hope this was an entertaining comparison of the two main protagonists.


About mfinocchiaro

IT Architecture Guru for large PLM software company but dabbling in Web 2.0 and other stuff.
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