Everyone knows there’s no such thing as a gingerbread cookie-cutter template for the perfect leader. All leaders are intrinsically different yet they do share common traits: They always inspire, they motivate, they lead by example, they spread joy and cheer to every member of their team.
And when we think about fantastic leaders, one unconventional yet universal example comes to mind: Old St. Nick! There’s no denying St. Nick has got a lot on his cookie-filled plate but he handles it all with finesse and experience year after year. Here are a few reasons why St. Nick is the epitome of a great leader:
Nick abides by the four disciplines of execution. First, he focuses on his Wildly Important Goals: bringing cheer to everyone around the world and putting smiles on our faces during the holiday season. Second, he acts on his lead measures. He loads his sleigh, maps out his gift-giving route and slides down chimneys to deliver gifts. Third, he keeps a compelling scoreboard, checking his lists twice and keeping score of who’s been naughty and who’s been nice. Finally, he creates a cadence of accountability by meeting with his elves once per week all year long. During these meetings, his elves announce how many toys they’ve assembled that week and how many they’ll assemble in the week ahead. (“This week I made 10 nutcrackers and five dolls and next week I’ll make twelve nutcrackers and seven dolls …”)
He’s jolly. Leadership is about maintaining a positive mindset and you can’t get much more positive than the affable, always smiling and always laughing St. Nick.
He’s a master at time management. Deliver presents to children all across the world? Check. Do it all before the sun rises and the hot cocoa is on the stove? Check. If his time isn’t managed properly, he can’t succeed at his job, shimmying down chimneys and delivering presents all across the world in the span of a single night.
He knows how to delegate. Not only is St. Nick a great leader but he also manages a huge staff of elves! Each one has an assigned task and St. Nick knows that the holiday season can’t happen alone. He trusts his staff and they in turn respect him. Each elf has his or her Wildly Important Goals and St. Nick understands he can’t dictate but he can veto if they’re not in alignment with St. Nick’s overall WIG.
He’s humble. St. Nick understands that smugness comes before arrogance and arrogance is the precursor of disaster. St. Nick once told me once you think you know it all your slide to mediocrity has already begun. And St. Nick certainly never confesses to knowing it all. Each year, children write down the presents they’d like to receive and each year, he delivers on their promise. He never assumes to know what they want; he relies on them to write out the message.
So what’s the message? Examples of great leadership can come from anywhere and everywhere but the reason St. Nick is such a great leader is because we never even think of him as one. He’s reliable, he’s there, he has all the qualities of a great leader without shouting it from the rooftops, (he prefers chimneys anyway). He’s also relatable and transforms the holiday season into one we can all enjoy, whether we’re hoping for a brand-new toy or just to spend a few days with close family and friends.
No matter what this holiday season means to you, my hope is that it’s one filled with peace, prosperity and joy for all.