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!