Leadership Lessons from Santa


I sit here a day after Christmas pondering the next 364 days until jolly old Santa makes his next appearance.  Rather than tying myself up in the normal commercialized frenzy of the season, I decided to do something a little different this year.  I spent some quality time looking for what I could learn from my favorite time of year.  After several weeks full of craziness, several days full of food (and cheer) and a whole BUNCH of sappy Christmas movies I’ve developed a different take on old Santa.  Never really thought about Good Ole Saint Nick as anything other than his normal cheery red-robed self, but after really studying his antics in all of those movies I came up with seven critical leadership lessons that the spirit of the old fellow offers us.


Lessons from Santa

A BIG vision – Santa is a worldwide phenomenon.  Known by children everywhere regardless of religion or background.  He didn’t get to this status by playing small ball.  No, Santa started off with a big vision.  He works every year to make it come true for all of those little boys and little girls, but more importantly he has enlisted the help of millions of people around the world by helping them see the same vision he does, millions of children with millions of smiles.

Loyalty to those who create success – Santa could not do what he does without his loyal followers. There is little chance that he alone could make all of the toys and games needed by himself, even with Christmas magic.  Saint Nick knows that the accomplishment of his vision lies squarely in the hands of his team hidden deep within the North Pole (and in every home).  Santa is fiercely loyal to his team and as evidenced by all of the scenes I watched.  His team (save the one or two misfits that always seem to show up) love what they do and who they do it for (kids).  They are loyal to Santa because he is loyal to them!

Can be counted on – The jolly old soul never misses.  While some years he may not leave as much behind in the physical sense, he always leaves the same love behind and he’s done it since 336AD!  That’s a lot of manufacturing and a whole lot of globetrotting.  If nothing else were true, the one thing we know is that we can count on the fact that Saint Nick will make his annual ride.

Is humble as humble can be – How can anyone with a laugh like his be anything but humble?  Even in his great wisdom, Saint Nick is still as gentle and humble as you can get.  I guess it would be hard to not be humble with the incredible number of little kids that cross your lap telling you what they want for Christmas all the while reminding you that you are fat and need a haircut.

Get’s the importance of logistics – If anyone in the world gets how important the little things are (like the logistics of it all), it is Saint Nick.  He knows that it doesn’t matter how good the quality of his toys are, or how good his intel is on what people want.  He knows none of that matters if he can’t actually deliver the gifts.  He doesn’t put all of his emphasis on the making, he also plans (as evidenced by the movies), he scenario plans, he creates back up plans and he checks his equipment out.  He knows how important the details are, but manages to not get so wrapped up in them that he can’t see everything else that is important.

It’s always about others – Santa really sets the bar high for how we should treat others.  He freely gives of his time, his magic, his means, and his wisdom.  He does all of this while turning down anything offered in return.  Santa really gets the fact that happiness is something that we’re given when we give the same gift to someone else.  This is the real reason people long for the old man to come each year.

Really doesn’t keep a list – Growing up I was told (like most other kids) that I had better mind my parents and that I didn’t want to be on Santa’s naughty list.  Well, I’ve come to the realization that he really doesn’t keep a list.  Santa, more than anybody I know, knows that we all make mistakes and he allows us to put our mistakes behind us.  The movies prove that he doesn’t keep a list because in every one of them, every child (and most adults) gets a Christmas gift.  Now I will say that some of those gifts probably weren’t appreciated as such when they were first received, but in the end Santa knew just the right present!

Works tirelessly, but rests when its time – Santa sets the example for how we should work.  No, it’s not about cramming a ton of work into a 24-hour shift.  It’s about working and resting throughout the year so that when crunch time arrives you can be at the top of your game.

The old man is full of wisdom (given his age it’s no wonder).  I fully intend on continuing my study of Saint Nick because I know he has many more lessons to be taught.  Meanwhile I challenge you to do the same.  Instead of looking at the jolly old elf as a sweet old man in a red velvet outfit, stop and ask yourself “what makes him special?”

Putting those answers into practice might not lead us to become big elf’s ourselves, but it might just help you become a better leader of those around you!   Santa HatSo I leave you with one question – “can you wear the hat?”


What Santa does really is pretty simple (creates millions of smiles), but no one ever said it was easy!

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