The big guy in the red suit heads up a pretty impressive outfit. A year of frantic, precision driven preparation, keeping a host of little people motivated, focus and warm in extreme conditions and then all culminating in a mind-boggling devilry schedule that would do FedEx proud – and this with nothing more that a sled powered by some aging reindeer.
And the results speak for themselves. On the whole, a world of satisfied customers who I would think could be counted as amongst the most demanding of all clients. I am sure there would be a moment of restful reflection on a job well done before it is all hands to the pumps as the whole thing starts again. I think there are some valuable insights to be gained for those in leadership from how the Big Guy goes about this impressive schedule and delivery. In fact I have written an article for our next TomorrowToday Ezine on ‘10 leadership lessons we can take from Santa’. But why stop there? Here then are some further thoughts for your consideration in keeping with the season and the cheer that goes with it.
Santa is both personal able yet maintains an air of mystique. Somehow he gets this difficult balance right. We all love Santa and are drawn to him and all he represents. Yet, in spite of this there is an unmistakable air of mystery to him and who he really is. This works well for Santa in generating both respect and affection – two helpful ingredients in the exercising of leadership.
Santa understands the importance of ‘the story’. It is a story in which he plays a central role but it is also one in which plenty of room is given to the other important role players – from elves to grinches, from reindeer to snowmen. It is a rich narrative that invites it’s principle clients to enter into and experience the magic for themselves. It is the kind of story that allows the clients to feel integral to the plot itself. Therein sits the core ingredient to the success of the Christmas story. Smart leaders understand that what Santa has achieved should be something they too ought to achieve and in doing so, ensure that all stakeholders feel they too are integral to the plot itself.
It is clear that Santa loves what he does. ‘Love what you do and do what you love’ describes Santa and his dedicated associates. The passion is obvious and is important to the cheer that Santa brings. If, as a leader you cannot find this same ingredient then I would suggest you quit. Now I am sure that Santa has his off days and his fair share of irritation with both his staff and clients who might change their minds or show ingratitude, but such occasions are the exception and not the rule. This would be true for any leader but if the exception becomes the rule, then it is time to get out – for both your sake as well as for the sake of those you lead. Passion is something that starts at the top and if it not there, then it is a pretty serious situation.
Santa listens to his clients and strives to meet their needs. Smart leaders make sure this same characteristic is pervasive throughout his or her organization. ‘The client is king’ goes the traditional mantra, well Santa knows this and his entire operation is geared towards ensuring they deliver on what the client wants. They are there for the client and not the other way round. Service companies would do well to remember this basic requirement. It is something that ought to reflect in not only their service delivery but in their policies as well! How often have you been on the wrong end of a, “but that’s our policy Sir /Ma’m”?
So, next time you get to sing Jingle Bells and reflect about Santa, think about all he could teach you about smart leadership. And should you perchance catch Mom kissing Santa, it might be that she too is simply trying to learn something about leadership – but I’ll leave you to be the judge of that!