The jolly man in the red suit is doing something right. For hundreds of years Santa has delivered toys to boys and girls around the world, on schedule each and every year. And unless I missed a news report, it’s all been done without disgruntled, under-appreciated elves refusing to show up for work.
Santa and his team are under a lot of pressure. Can you imagine the disappointment if he missed a house, a city block, an entire city or heaven forbid, decided he’d been doing this whole toy thing long enough and decided to hang up his hat? Santa and his entire team of elves and reindeer understand just how important their job is and thanks to Santa’s leadership, the job gets done each year.
Five leadership lessons we can learn from Santa are:
- Santa has a clearly defined focus and target market. Santa and his elves work 364 days a year preparing for one thing and one thing only; delivering toys to children, the demographic that believes in him. He understands that when he makes his believers happy, the adults who don’t believe in him will be happy too.
- Santa makes sure his elves have the tools they need in order to do their job. Have you seen his workshop? Every tool you can imagine is in there. As children’s requests have changed from wind-up cars to video racing games, Santa has kept on top of the trends to make sure he’s ordering the right supplies for his elves. He realizes asking his elves to make do with outdated equipment reduces efficiency and productivity and increases frustration and stress.
- Santa trains his elves. Elves used to need to know how to make simple rag dolls. Then the dolls needed to be able to say “mama”, had to come with multiple outfits and even walk. Today, those dolls need to be interactive. They need to smile or cry on cue, wet their diaper on cue and talk on cue. And when the dolls talk, they need to have a vocabulary that includes complete sentences. Santa doesn’t replace the experienced, but less tech-savvy elves with younger elves. Sure he’ll hire the younger elves, but he’ll also retrain the experienced elves so that they can continue to do what they love.
- Santa recognizes individual strengths. Dasher, Dancer and the rest of the reindeer team are strong and fast. Without them, there is no way Santa could get around the world in such a short time. It took Santa to realize how valuable Rudolph could be to the team. Sure, Rudolph is a little guy and doesn’t make a big difference in how fast they get around, but without him, there is a good chance a house may be missed in the dark and a missed house would damage Santa’s reputation.
- Santa doesn’t leave things to chance. Santa is a list maker and before heading out to deliver his toys, he double checks the list to make sure it’s right. He also doesn’t wait until the last minute to start making toys. Santa and his team have developed a schedule and they stick to it!
Bonus Leadership Lesson: Santa walks the talk. Santa understands that if he wants his elves and children to be good for goodness sake, he has to lead by example.
As 2012 comes to a close, why not take some of Santa’s leadership practices to keep your workshop abuzz in 2013.