I’m not sure if I ever believed in Santa Claus, I was born a skeptic! But whether or not you believe, there is a lot that can be learned about leadership from his folklore.
Here are 7 Leadership Lessons from Santa Claus:
#1: Have a clear vision
Santa Claus is on a mission to share hope, joy, and cheer! Every great leader has a clear vision they share with their team to not only communicate their purpose, but also their values. Your vision will guide and direct your followers; it shapes their behavior and sets the tone for the type of organizational culture you want to create.
Santa Claus has done an outstanding job of establishing a clear vision, and more importantly he successfully fulfills that vision each and every year. No matter what is happening in the world, every December, Santa lives and breathes the spirit of the season. He embodies his values and beliefs and inspires millions around the world to celebrate life and one another, share joy and kindness, and to give generously.
His vision for a peaceful and joyful world is evident in his work and leadership. What is your vision?
#2 Build a team of experts
To produce the number of toys required to fill every child’s wish list, it is essential that Santa’s Workshop run as smoothly and efficiently as possible. Like any good factory, Santa’s elves have to specialize to maximize quality and efficiency.
Everyone cannot be an expert at everything so it is critical to develop teams of specialists. You want to surround yourself with people who are really good at what they do, and can contribute their expertise to help you realize your organizations vision and mission. When people are able to give their best, they are more engaged and satisfied by their work.
All of the elves work with pride, because they know each plays a key role in bringing joy to all of the children.
#3 Set expectations
Children who believe in Santa Claus aspire to make the Nice List, and avoid the Naughty List! While Santa Claus is a notoriously nice guy, he is really clear about what he expects from others. He expects people to behave with integrity and make ethical choices, and rewards you when you do.
Great leaders are able to articulate and model the behaviors they want to see in others, and respond appropriately when it doesn’t happen. Santa does not reward those who behave badly, and neither should you. Unchecked bad behavior can undo all the work that has gone into creating strong teams and building a positive culture so set expectations and respond appropriately to those who have been nice and naughty.
#4 Give the underdog the chance to be a hero
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer was a one of a kind reindeer whose nose glowed. In the original story authored by Robert L. May in 1939, Rudolph’s nose made him an outcast, until Santa recognized that his glowing nose could serve as a guiding light for his team of reindeer who were struggling to see through the fog.
Great leaders recognize and value differences in others, and understand how to leverage those differences to bring out the best in everyone. Be willing to be innovative with those who are different, and explore how those differences can be used as a resource to advance your team and organization.
#5 Inspire appreciation
Did you leave milk and cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve? These treats serve as a small token of appreciation for a man who gives so much.
As a leader, there a lot of different ways you can assert your leadership. The most effective leaders influence others by helping and encouraging them. A leader who is driven to serve their followers and put their needs above their own inspires appreciation.
When was the last time someone left you milk and cookies?
#6 Be responsive the needs of others
Every year the US Postal Service receives millions (literally) of letters for Santa. Each letter typically includes a list of one’s good deeds and the gifts they want for Christmas. Every child expects to receive the gifts they asked Santa for, and I suspect, when possible, he delivers.
Leaders should respond to the needs and requests of their followers when the resources are available. This doesn’t mean raises for everyone, in fact, if we are actually listening, and listening well, most people aren’t looking for financial rewards. Most would rather have recognition, feedback, and opportunities to be challenged and grow. Be willing to listen and respond to the needs of others so that they can be fully engaged in their work and your organizations mission.
#7 When it’s time to deliver, have a strong team
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came, And he whistled, and shouted, and call’d them by name: “Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now, Prancer, and Vixen! “On, Comet! On, Cupid! On, Donder and Blitzen!
-Excerpt from The Night Before Christmas, Clement C. Moore
On Christmas Eve, Santa Claus has only 31 hours (because of the various time zones and rotation of the earth) to deliver 321,300 tons of gifts to 91.8 million homes, traveling for 75-1/2 million miles. In order to bypass the laws of physics, he has got to have a strong team to deliver.
When you are ready to deliver big be sure to have the right people by your side. When you are looking to get your start-up business up and running, launch that new product, or grow your organization select a a team of people who have your back, share your vision, and will defy all odds to ensure you meet your goal.
Thank You Santa Claus for all that you share and inspire!
A huge thanks from me to you for all of your support, comments, follows, and likes in 2013! I’m looking forward to 2014 being filled with new opportunities, challenges, and adventures….Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and have a very Happy New Year!
Just for you! Here are the 7 Leadership Lessons from Santa in a great Haiku Deck slideshow. Please use and share!
To be sure you get all the gifts I have to offer join the Millennial leaders mailing list here
That’s it. The end. It’s over!
But wait, don’t panic! I will be re-launching The Millennials Mentor at TAMARATHORPE.COM and offering all of my professional services here.
You see, in 2007, I started TNT Intercultural and Leadership Development (aka TNT Development) hoping to enjoy the freedom of self-employment and to engage in meaningful work around culture and leadership. I have to admit, being self-employed has come with its ups and downs, but mostly ups! And I have also been fortunate enough to work with some amazing people and organizations making positive changes.
Work that has been especially meaningful to me has included providing cultural adjustment trainings to immigrant and refugees, making their life in a new country just a bit easier. Particularly energizing, has been the assistance I’ve given to help teams and organizations learn to work more effectively across differences.
So what is going to change? The change isn’t so much the “what”, but the “who”.
The Millennial Mentor targets young professionals and the organizations they work in or run, equipping them with leadership tools for life.
For years, I’ve been able to collaborate with and mentor students and young professionals from all over the world through my volunteer work. In 2012, I realized that I did not want to limit my engagement with Millennials, and wanted to serve them through my professional work as well.
Let’s face it, I just can’t get enough of young people. And I mean that in the most sincere way, not a creepy way.
So when re-envisioning my business, I was 100% certain that I wanted to use my expertise and experience to make a difference in the lives of all the young people I know and don’t know.
The challenge was to find the best way to share what I know with as many of you as possible. And so in December 2012, I launched TAMARATHORPE.COM and became the Millennials Mentor. Since then, I have learned so much about you and me, and how to create a space and place that is valuable for you and where you are in your life right now. So this past August, I made the decision to fully commit my work to Millennials and let go of TNT Development all together.
Now I got plenty of advice from friends, colleagues, and even my marketing coach and business consultant to consider specializing in generational differences. This would mean working with organizations and institutions to explain the characteristics of Millennials, why you are the way you are, and then teach them how to lead and work with you more effectively.
I said NO! Why? Because…I don’t want to talk ABOUT Millennials, I want to talk TO Millennials!
So what am I going to talk about?
Building a better you from the ground up! I want to help you realize your untapped potential to be the best version of yourself and effectively lead in the organizations where you work or that you run.
In 2014, TAMARATHORPE.COM will be offering new and better leadership development programs designed to make a difference in your life and career.
I will be offering more content than even before…tips, advice, guides, resources, videos and more.
And I will continue to offer 1:1 coaching, organizational development consulting (team building, change management, communication, conflict resolution, etc), and speaking for events and conferences.
A huge thanks to all of you who have supported me and my work. Your contributions have guided me to this place and time. I’m excited about the future and looking forward to seeing more of you at the new and improved TAMARATHORPE.COM next month!
Just last week I gave a presentation on Mentoring Gen Y’s at the UNM’s Mentoring Conference here in Albuquerque, NM. Age discrimination came up when a man in the group suggested generational differences are cause more conflict and frustration than any other cultural difference in organizations today. It wasn’t so much that I disagreed, because we know that Gen Y’s (or Millennials) are entering the workforce in large numbers and within the next two years you are expected to be the majority in most organizations. So addressing and understanding how age and generational differences impact the professional collaboration and organizational culture is important, but why is so hot and heated. Because people are much open about it, and speak more freely about their age/generational bias. The things we openly say about younger or older people, would never fly in discussions about gender, race, or sexuality.
So why is slamming someone because of their age so socially acceptable? I suspect because no one has gotten angry enough to make it stop or it’s so prevalent we don’t really know how to make it stop. So let’s start a new trend and lets make it un-cool to voice bias and stereotypes about others because of their age. Like any other culture group, generational groups have their own culture, beliefs and values which shape their norms and behaviors.
A starting point is accepting how we are different, and approach our differences with a genuine curiosity and desire to better understand one another. When we understand each other it is much easier to find out where we have commonalities, and it empowers us to see the differences with more empathy and creativity. If families, groups, and organizations can approach age differences as well as cultural differences, with more empathy, curiosity, and creativity then these differences will be recognized as an asset, an untapped source of energy and opportunity that can be leveraged for successful interaction and collaboration. Come on, be cool, don’t be agist!
Confucius is well known around the worlds as a philosopher and a teacher; however, in a presentation at the UNM Mentoring Institute Conference by Xiu Gang, President of Tianjin Foreign Studies University in China, he argued that Confucius was the original mentor, committed to developing his students in all areas of life. Confucius says benevolence is the goal in any mentoring relationship. We can think of benevolence as goodwill or charity; however, Xiu Gang, defined it as love. Traditionally, we think of a mentoring relationship as one where a more experienced individual supports the development and advancement of someone with less experience. Not exactly love.
So what’s love got to do with it? Xiu Gang discussed the Confucius Model of Mentoring which has 6 core tenants: benevolence, etiquette, unity, righteousness, loyalty, and the gentleman. He said benevolence is the foundation that the other tenants built upon. Etiquette is how we live out our benevolence in our daily lives. And our righteousness, loyalty and personality (the gentleman) are further reflections of our benevolence. He argued that when our behavior and morals are guided by love, goodwill, and charity it will ensure a virtuous and civil society.
This resonated with me because it really speaks to the reasons why I, and others like me, want to mentor. There is an intrinsic desire to see others succeed, and make positive contributions to society. But most importantly, it articulated so clearly how our beliefs and values shape our behavior, and how powerful a kind and benevolent heart could be when we go out into the world. And if mentors and protégés apply it in their mentoring relationship then it stands to be a powerful learning experience and opportunity for both.
Change is hard!
Change is the process or event! Graduation, a promotion, being laid off, a new boss, an organizational re-structure and so on.
Transition is the psychological experience we have in response to that change.