A Leadership Lesson From Santa Claus

I wrote a letter to Santa Claus and asked him for one simple thing this year.

Dear Santa,

My readers are busy leaders who spend their time tirelessly working to build effective teams hoping that in the end, they will deliver on the results of a common goal.  Since you spend your time throughout the year leading all the elves and reindeer with the singular purpose of delivering presents to good boys and girls all over the world,  I was hoping that you would be willing to share a few words of wisdom with my readers.

Thank you Santa,

Lisa-signature

 

 Well Santa truly delivered ... here is his reply: 

Dear Lisa,

It is my privilege to write to you and share a few words on leadership.  Leadership is a noble role and one not to be taken lightly.  In many ways, like me, leaders hold the potential of their team members performance in their hands.  Leaders are responsible for creating work environments where people are able to do their best and contribute to a meaningful goal.  

I am sure you have heard of the story of Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer and how all the elves teased him about his very shiny nose.  Well, let me use that as an example to explain a simple lesson that leaders can apply immediately. 

When I came across Rudolph, I recognized that he asked three simple questions of me:

  1. Do you care about me?
  2. Can you help me?
  3. Can I trust you?

Rudolph had a lot of doubts about being different.  He really just wanted to belong and be useful. Rudolph simply needed me to care about him and recognize him for who he was – a reindeer with a unique gift.  He needed me to help him utilize his strengths by creating an opportunity for him to contribute in a meaningful way.  

You see, I saw the potential in Rudolph’s red nose.  Oh how it shone so brightly.  I thought "This would be an advantage for me and the team as we met with foggy weather on Christmas Eve.  Rudolph would light up the night and make it much easier for all of the other reindeer to do perform their jobs!"   The reindeer agreed and they welcomed Rudolph as a key member of the team.  They even stopped calling him names.  Something I was not going to tolerate!  

Now - without fail - each year I call upon Rudolph to lead the sleigh.  He knows he can count on me and the team to support him with this important task.  

You see, what I learned from these three questions may seem simple in theory – and I will be the first to admit that it is – but very few leaders actually do this.  So, answering these questions for each team member is a very rare gift that leaders can give throughout the year.  If you like lists as much as I do, here is a short one for you to keep handy.  

Find out what your team cares about.  Care about them. 

Find out what they need your help with.  Help them.   

Ask them for your trust.  Then prove your trust to them. 

I learned these three questions from someone who is a renowned expert in leadership, John C. Maxwell, who learned it from one of his university professors.   Is all I ask in return, is that you continue to re-gift their wisdom to others who can benefit from them. 

Respectfully yours,

Santa Claus 

Lisa Holden Rovers, MSc, CPHR, PCC, is the Founder of Workplace Matters. Since 2005, Lisa has been coaching entrepreneurs and executives to grow as leaders and spark team cultures that thrive. She’s an award-winning human resources professional and a certified leadership and team coach who is passionate about helping people step into what is possible.  

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