Leadership Skills That Santa Believes In

I recently received a book as a Christmas gift from Mike James of James Environmental and eComply. Every year without fail, Mike uses a book at his annual employee retreat. In the past, he used the book, Who Moved My Cheese.  Phenomenal book. This year he chose a book by Eric Harvey, Leadership Secrets of Santa Claus. If you think you have a long, “to do” list each year, imagine what it’s like for Santa Claus. Santa’s “to-do” list is enormous. Santa must keep up with constantly, changing demands of new innovative toys, run a cheerful and productive workshop, joggle employees, equipment, facilities, resources, and production. That’s not to mention reading all those letters from hopeful children while making the big delivery all in one night. No wonder he has white hair and a beard. Let’s briefly discuss some of the incredible, down-to-earth information that Santa reveals in this book.

By following Santa’s easy-to-follow coaching principles, you’ll create a happier workplace. The book is a quirky, easy way to remember the foundations of great management. I cannot mention all ten principles in this article but prefer to focus on one of them. The firstsix principles are: First Principle is Build a Wonderful Workshop. Second is Choose Your Reindeer Wisely, Third Make a List and Check it Twice, Fourth is Listen to the Elves, Fifth is Share the Milk and Cookies, and Sixth is Give Them Gifts that Last a Lifetime. All good tips. Now back to Santa Claus’ principles of leadership.

Santa Claus says, “Hire tough, so you can manage easy!” You’ve heard their names: Dancer and Dasher. Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid, Donner, and Blitzen. Do you know the LEAST FAMOUS REINDEER of all? If you said, “Rudolph”, then you’re wrong. It’s Misfit! Why? Misfit’s not here anymore. Unfortunately, Santa had to let him go, decades ago.

Santa recounts what happened after he hired Misfit, “I certainly learned a lot from a whole “misfit” experience. It all started when I was faced with hiring a new reindeer to fill a vacant position. Now, I know that pulling the sled is a very important job. Ask the reindeers. They’ll tell you. But I was busy, very busy recruiting and hiring new pullers was just one of a score of things I had on my cookie plater. And besides, bringing on a new staff of reindeer can be chaotic and tiring work. It’s not what makes me jolly. So, I took an easy route. I did a courtesy resume review, conducted a quick proforma interview, and grabbed the first antler-warm body that appeared halfway decent.”

Weary that he had hired Misfit, Santa explained, “Misfit was probably named right. After putting his best hoof forward, the problem begun. He showed up late and then began displaying a less than desirable attitude.” Santa continued, “When I called him on it, more and more, he carried less and less of his share of the load. That made the sleigh pull more to the right, forcing the left side crew to work harder for us to stay straight. The harder they worked, the more irritated they became and making it harder for me to keep the reins in check. I ended up spending way more time watching “Misfit” re-re-retraining him, counseling him and handling complaints from other reindeer and elves about him.”

Santa was at wits-end. “Pretty soon Misfit was bringing the whole team down and their productivity was going down with them. All of that happened because of one “misfit” reindeer. All of that because I cut corners and allowed joining the team to be way too easy. That was then.”

At times, all of us have had to make employee changes, but here’s what Santa did. “Now I do things differently. Through the “Misfit” experience, I’ve come to realize that #1, because it’s employees who ultimately make our mission happen that Staffing is my single most important responsibility. #2 the time I spent hiring the right way is nothing compared to the time I will have to spend dealing with the wrong reindeer.”

Take a hiring lesson from Santa. Invest in doing it right up front. Everyone, especially you, will be happier down the road. Santa Claus’ leadership principles really make sense, especially for 2020. Thank you, Mike James for sending me my copy. For those reading this article, my prescription for 2020 is get your vision right. Start focusing on the right concerns in your business. Start with this book. I wish you the very best for the New Year and see you next time.

Correspondence regarding this article should go to:

D.J. Says, 2820 Andover Way, Woodstock, GA 30189

D. J. Harrington is an author, journalist, seminar leader, international trainer, and marketing consultant. He works primarily with customer service personnel, and his clients include such world-class companies as General Motors, DuPont, Caterpillar, and Damon Corporation. He may be reached at 800-352-5252. E-mail: dj@djsays.com. 52 weeks a year, we are as close as your telephone.