Posted on 20 Dec 2012

When you think about it, few people have a higher stress position than Santa K. Claus – Founder, CEO, and Creative Genius behind Santa’s Workshop®. What with trying to manage a workforce of thousands of elves, keep a constant vigil on global Naughty or Nice trends, and having the success of his company rely solely on one night’s performance, it’s easy to see how the Big Guy could be overwhelmed. But somehow, year after year, his team delivers millions of toys to deserving boys and girls worldwide without a hitch.

Clearly, Santa’s achievements and the success of the North Pole-based Workshop® are only possible because of his exemplary leadership skills. Were it not for Claus’s ability to inspire, organize, and effectively manage his workforce (using PageUp software most likely), Christmas would be an annual kerfuffle.

So how can you be the kind of leader that elves look up to, while ensuring the success of a globally-recognized company for over 2,000 years? Check out Santa’s Top 5 Leadership Lessons:

1.  Communicate your vision and get your employees excited about it!

A vision that isn’t articulated isn’t much more than a dream. So you want to make sure that your vision, your values, and your goals are clear throughout your organization. For example, Santa has regular meetings with his elves to make sure that everyone is aligned with his mission of spreading joy and cheer all over the world. During these meetings, Santa not only talks – he LISTENS to his elves to get their ideas on how to best approach this formidable yet hugely rewarding mission.

2. Develop and motivate your workforce

When Santa first hired Rudolph, he saw a lot of potential in him. Even though Rudolph looked a lot different than the other reindeer and was a bit of an outcast, Santa saw past that and decided to teach Rudolph how to take a negative and turn it into a positive.  Nowadays, Rudolph’s brightly lit nose can be seen guiding Santa’s reindeer caravan all across the world. Santa also provides professional development courses for the elves. For example, “No More Wooden Toys: What Kids Really Want” is a popular course each year.

3.   Listen to your Customers

While Santa doesn’t have “customers” per se, he does make a point to keep an ear to the ground and stay current with today’s toy trends.  Many a modern day Christmas would have been ruined if Santa was still giving out wooden cup-n-ball toys in today’s world of 3D TV’s and dolls with real human emotion (slight exaggeration – maybe).

4. Delegate Responsibility & Give Purpose

No one wants to feel like they’re dispensable, just a warm body to fill a space. Santa recognizes this and takes measures to ensure that each of his elves has a clear purpose. For example, each elf in the Workshop has their own area of responsibility whether it’s making toys, packaging toys, taking care of the reindeer, or conducting research as part of the Elf on the Shelf program. Whatever department/area they work in, each elf has a clear set of responsibilities and knows that their performance is integral to the overall success of the Workshop and the mission.

5. Have fun.

Despite the enormous amount of pressure he’s under, Santa genuinely enjoys what he does. Think about it, when have you ever seen this guy not in a good mood? Santa’s position is a great example of one that’s stressful and highly visible, yet he’s able to have fun with it. His spirit and enthusiasm permeate the culture of the workshop and inspire the elves to do their best every day. And ultimately, this is what makes Christmas a success each year.

So next time you find yourself dashing around to catch this flight, make that meeting, or close that deal – wondering how in the world you’ll ever be able to do EVERYTHING that needs to be done, remember to take a minute to appreciate and enjoy being a leader. And before you complain about yet another layover on your business trip, remember that Santa makes approximately 132 million stops each Christmas Eve, and does it all with a smile 🙂