Why Costumes Work at Work

As luck would have it, this Halloween finds me in my home office. It hits on a Friday which typically means writing and development… no keynotes, no consulting gigs, no teaching the MBAs… sadly no reason to wear a costume.  In fact the next few Halloweens are on weekends– great for kids, terrible for dressing up as your favorite leadership message (yes, that’s me on the left).

Your next weekday (Halloween) chance is Monday, October 31st 2016, although I’ve found excuses to dress up at all times of the year. But for the traditionalists in our tribe, you have plenty of time to prepare. Go for it. I’d love to see your plans. Of course, if you dressed up today, send me a pic.  I’ll add it to the post.

Why Costumes Work at Work

  • Costumes are a great way to reinforce key messages. Try dressing up as your favorite objective, priority or customer complaint.
  • Costumes are silly, and silly is fun. We all need that.
  • Fun makes us real. Real creates connections. Connections inspire awesome customer experiences.
  • Teams long for a leader to show they are vulnerable. Nothing says “exposed” like a silly hair do.
  • Risk taking is an important leadership competency. It’s a bit gutsy to ask your team to follow you into a costume. Maybe it will make the next risk easier to take.
  • When done as a team… silly creates lasting team experiences which draw the team together. “Remember the time she had us all…?”(They may complain, but I guarantee the guy who resisted the most has a picture of that day in his office.)
  • It says fun is good. Let’s make more.

Whenever you have a chance to lighten the mood, create connection, and reinforce the message, go for it. If you missed it this year, make a plan (don’t wait for Halloween)…and please share your story.

Posted in Authenticity & Transparency, Employee Engagement & Energy and tagged , .

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt helps human-centered leaders resolve workplace ambiguity and chaos, so that they can drive innovation, productivity and revenue without burning out employees. She’s the founder and CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders, an international leadership development and training firm known for practical tools and leadership development programs that stick. She’s the award-winning author of four books including Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates and Winning Well: A Manager's Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul and a hosts the popular Asking For a Friend Vlog on LinkedIn. A former Verizon Wireless executive, Karin was named to Inc. Magazine’s list of great leadership speakers. Karin and her husband and business partner, David Dye, are committed to their philanthropic initiative, Winning Wells - building clean water wells for the people of Cambodia.


  1. Love this post Karin because I love to pretend!

    Dressing up to me is similar to storytelling and can be a powerful way to share your ideas and contributions. I sometimes bring props to my training workshops and ask the participants to use them as they see fit. We laugh. We play. We learn.

    Here’s to Halloween and costumes!!

    Thanks Karin and Boo!

  2. Karin,
    No costume for me today, other than wearing the SF Giants shirt I bought in Cooperstown. Normally I wear an Aloha shirt on Fridays, so this was a conscious choice for today. Not that I need a costume to be a Giants fan. Peets is a ghost town – everyone is going to the parade. Great reason to miss work!

  3. I love how you take dressing up for Halloween at the office beyond the silly costume and create opportunities for bonding and team building beyond a party. I honestly never would have considered using costumes to reinforce key messages during Halloween. Fantastic!

    Some of the companies I’ve worked for actually had to set guidelines around “work appropriate” costumes on Halloween. There was more skin than I had ever seen at the office – even in the name of fun. I’m sure it was a three advil kind of day for HR.

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