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Leadership Lessons from Santa

Bring joy, check your list twice and make spirits bright: Learn the secrets behind Santa’s impeccable track record of delivering on expectations!

Leadership Lessons from Santa

He has 364 days to strategize and produce, and one day to execute. He depends on a hard-working team of employees whom he convinced to relocate to the North Pole. He must re-skill his people annually to build the gifts that are most in demand each year. Yet despite the challenges, Santa Claus loves what he does.

How does Santa pull it off? In The Leadership Secrets of Santa Claus, Eric Harvey offers actionable leadership advice delivered directly from the North Pole. You may want to start with the following three tips from the big guy in the red suit.

Image of: The Leadership Secrets of Santa Claus
Book Summary

The Leadership Secrets of Santa Claus

Learn how Santa Claus deals with workshop challenges so you and your elves can follow his example.

Eric Harvey Simple Truths
Read Summary

1. Define Your Mission

Santa keeps his team motivated with a clear mission: “To bring joy to all boys and girls.” North Pole staff members know that mission, and they understand how they contribute to it. 

Great leaders start with a vision. They start with the WHY – and extrapolate the HOW and WHAT from it. Leaders best engage their employees by reiterating their mission often and connecting individual job roles to a greater purpose or meaning.

Engage your employees and attract talent by defining and executing an inspiring organizational vision. Start with these reading recommendations:

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Start with Why

How and why great leaders are “the complete opposite of everyone else.”

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The Revelation Conversation

Leaders can enhance team engagement by connecting employees to a sense of purpose.

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Rehumanizing Leadership

As the future of work changes, thriving in the 21st century will require embracing your humanity.

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Deep Purpose

Companies that commit to a clear purpose enjoy greater employee dedication and improved results.

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Satya Nadella: Aligning Behind a Common Purpose

CEO Satya Nadella attributes Microsoft’s success to its corporate culture and sense of purpose.

Jenny Luna Stanford Graduate School of Business Read Summary
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Find Your Why

This commonsense bestseller shows you why and how to discover your “Why” and “How” – and why and how it matters.

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Meaning, Inc.

Motivate your employees by injecting meaning into their work.

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The Purpose Effect

Purpose-driven firms put principles ahead of profits; still, being purpose-driven is good for business

Dan Pontefract Figure 1 Publishing Read Summary

2. Make a Plan

Being Santa Claus requires thorough planning. Santa’s consistent record of success in delivering gifts on time attests to his ability to make the most of the time, resources and expertise at hand. His to-do list includes goals and milestones that are specific and yet flexible. Santa understands that even the best thought-out plans need to be adjusted when needed – as in, “Make a list and check it twice.”

Organizations require strategic game plans that identify immediate and long-range goals, the actions needed to meet those objectives and the resources to pay for executing the plan.  Monitoring the implementation of your plan allows you to adjust it.

Become an expert planner with these reading recommendations:

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Management expert Richard Rumelt explains problem-solving essentials from the viewpoint of successful leaders.

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It’s time to stop strategic planning and start doing – strategically.

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The 4 Disciplines of Execution

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3. Be a Role Model

Santa’s workshop is filled with positive energy. His enthusiasm is genuine and contagious (“Ho, ho, ho!”). Santa understands: The best (and only) way of promoting the work culture you desire is to live it day by day. Santa makes it a point to recognize the positive performance of every elf and reindeer and treat everyone with respect. His positive attitude and actions reverberate across the team. By being a role model, Santa earns the buy-in and commitment of every team member.

Inspirational leaders tap into how people feel and what matters to them. Leaders who want to influence their workforce build their colleagues’ self-respect and make them reach for higher standards. Inspirational leaders influence and galvanize others. Although leaders can’t mandate inspiration, they can become its catalyst.

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The Inspiration Code

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Trust & Inspire

Replace command and control with “Trust & Inspire” – a leadership philosophy with purpose.

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Beyond Happiness

What if your work fit your values? What if your firm made the world better? Jenn Lim says both can happen.

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How do you inspire others to join in? Find answers in the getAbstract Journal:

Focus on your mission, work hard – but have fun along the way: Santa’s secret to great leadership is to strike a perfect balance between determination and levity. 

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Researched Abstracts
18 We have curated the most actionable insights from 18 summaries for this feature.
1 1 Podcast
17 We read and summarized 17 books with 4532 pages for this article.
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