Byron's Babbles

Leading Like Santa

It would be no picnic having to be Santa every day, especially wearing the same itchy red wool suit every day. Try it sometime. I have, as I make a pretty good Santa if I do say so myself. Yet Santa Claus pulls it off, year after year.

Santa has set some great examples of sound leadership for us to follow. Here are some Santa leadership traits that I have reflected on after encountering Santa Claus during a recent visit with him at Conner Prairie Interactive History Park. We’d all do well to emulate these skills in our everyday lives as leaders.
Here’s a list of dispositions I witnessed first hand while both watching him interact with the children and my own experience sitting on his lap. Yes, that’s right, I talked to the big guy myself – and asked for Legos (there is a picture in this post to prove it). There is just no warmer feeling than getting a hug from Santa while sitting on his lap. 

  • Santa takes time to connect and get to know every child, young and old.
  • Santa cared about what my wants and needs were. 
  • Santa communicates well with everyone. By communicating well, I mean he practices deep listening. Those sitting on his lap do most of the talking and he asks questions instead of offering up solutions.
  • Santa clearly loves what he does and let’s it show.
  • Santa is believable. Over time, millions of people have put their faith in Santa — even Virginia. Good leaders do the right things consistently. Do your team members believe in you?
  • Santa is sensitive to others. Santa is aware of customs and cultures around the world and makes sure that he addresses those cultures and customs. Do you do the same thing?
  • Santa never forgets his impact. Santa has the ability to change peoples’ lives. I’ve never forgotten the wonder at coming home from church as a youngster and seeing presents from Santa under our tree. I’ve never forgotten those leaders in my life who took time from their schedules to coach and mentor me. Know that you have the ability to impact others – positively or negatively – it’s your choice.
  • Santa asks for feedback. Santa could never get it right if he didn’t ask others for feedback.
  • Santa doesn’t make promises he can’t keep. Have you noticed, he doesn’t comit to anything that is not for sure going to happen. He is even so honest that he tells us there will be surprises – and we are always excited about it. Unlike leaders who make ludicrous comments/commitments like “I’m 99% sure this or that will happen.” What does that even mean? How do these leaders calculate 99%? Why do leaders want to have to backtrack when the so called 1% chance happens? Bottom line: Santa does not do that.
  • Santa is accessible to everyone. Think about it, Santa Claus spends weeks sitting in shopping centers and appearing in parades in the month leading up to Christmas. Wouldn’t this, in reality, be when Santa is at his busiest getting things done in the North Pole? Santa understands the value of spending time with those that he serves. Getting to know them and putting them first with his time helps Santa to understand people’s needs and serve them better.
  • Santa is clearly a giver not a taker. Santa lives to serve others. Rumor has it that Santa does enjoy a tall glass of Jersey (just had to throw that in) milk and sugar cookie, but essentially we all know Santa as the person who gives and gives. We love Santa because somehow he knows exactly what we would like and very often provides it for us. Clearly, Santa does not exist for his own sake, but for the sake of the millions of children that will benefit from his giving. Boy, can we learn something from that. I 

No matter how old you are, Santa Claus can put a sparkle in your eyes too. He has some amazing leadership traits that we should all pay attention to.  What would you add to this list? Please leave me a comment and let me know what to have observed.

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