The holidays bring an entire parade of holiday movies, often played in marathons throughout the season. These familiar films hold reservoirs of nostalgia, but they also harbor real-world insights. We have three lessons leaders can take to heart from the precocious eight-year-old in Home Alone.
1. Timelines matter. Mr. and Mrs. McCallister sleep through their alarm, leaving them frenzied as they try to make it to O’Hare on time. They are so frazzled that they forget their youngest son until on a plane en route to Paris. Even worse than his parent’s performance, Kevin is completely oblivious and sleeps through the departure all together. When we don’t allow ourselves adequate time, the quality of our work suffers—with disastrous results.
2. Maximize scarce resources. Left home alone with two sneaky bandits bent on robbing his home, Kevin turns simple household items, like an iron and Christmas ornaments, into dastardly traps. Most leaders can yield positive results when everything is going their way. Exceptional leaders face scarcity and challenge with creativity. Through leveraging the strengths and assets their team has, they meet the moment.
3. Undertaking things alone is risky. A single person facing a hostile challenge is a tenuous position—as Kevin will tell you. The youngster resorts to cardboard cut outs and television sounds to give the illusion that the house is lived in. While it can be tempting to employ smoke and mirrors to cover deficits, in order to be successful for the long-term you need a robust team around you. Do not go it alone.
It took Kevin languishing home alone for him to realize that individuals he thought were his foes—from his mysterious neighbor to his impatient older brother, Buzz—could actually be his allies. In addition to lessons of promptness, innovation, and teamwork, next time you watch Home Alone, we hope you’ll reflect on the colleagues in your life whom you might be holding at arms’ length but could actually help you succeed.