1.    Looking out for the little people

Santa’s army of elves are the true unsung heroes of Christmas. Without their help, making a present for every child in the world would be an impossible feat for one man. Knowing this, Santa praises, motivates and respects his little helpers in a way that they do not expect financial reward.

Our research shows that financial rewards have less significance when staff receive recognition and praise for their efforts.

Every organisation has a similar group of staff who are on the ground floor, being the hands that help run the operation. These people are as much a part of the success story, as those sat in an office and should be acknowledged and treated as such.


2.    Knowing who is naughty and nice

It’s not just about knowing who is naughty and nice, but letting them know too.

Santa’s appraisal system not only rewards good children with a present, but receiving a lump of coal sends a very clear message to those on the naughty list.

Feedback is crucial to both leaders and employees and is often lacking in organisations. Whether formal or casual, good leaders provide constant feedback, so their employees know exactly how they are performing. Good leaders also know how to support their staff to help them improve. 


3.    Making a list, and checking it twice

Every leader needs a plan of action so they know which way they are steering the ship (or the sleigh) and thanks to his rigorous Evernote list, Santa knows exactly what he’s doing.

The difference between the creation of the plan from someone at the top, to it being followed through by the entire organisation is communication. Every elf and reindeer has a purpose and they know exactly what their role is to make Christmas a success. It’s not only about having a thorough plan, but good leaders let everyone know what they’re doing at each stage and how important their job is to the overall operation.

Leaders also know when they’re on track, so once they’ve made a list, they remember to check it twice.


4.    Recruiting talent

As we all know, poor Rudolph was mercilessly teased by the other reindeers because of his shiny red nose. It was only when he outperformed the other reindeer and Santa placed him right at the front of the herd to lead the way on Christmas Eve, that his contribution was acknowledged by everyone.

Here Santa has illustrated the importance of getting to know your staff properly and identifying untapped potential. He acknowledged a shortcoming in his team’s skill set and knew a current staff member who had potential to step up to the challenge, turning what everyone deemed as a weakness into a strength.

Knowing his staff and their potential has not only saved him the expense of recruiting externally, but he has also retained a staff member by removing them from a toxic working environment and highlighting their unique skill set.


5.    Be a role model

Santa lives and breathes the values of the company. He represents a universal figure of acceptance and love for everyone. His acceptance of all helps him to be an enviable leader.

Nobody can accuse him of being unfair to his team or customers and he always goes the extra mile for the company’s mission, to spread Christmas spirit. Whether it’s a feature in the infamous Coca-Cola advert or appearances in grottos and shopping centres across the world, he never lets anyone down, even in busy periods. Because of this, he radiates respect, makes people feel safe when he is around and behaves ethically.

Make his philosophy yours, and you will ensure that you and your team reap this season's goodwill for long-term success.


Written by The Institute of Leadership & Management Social Media Coordinator, Kim Knight