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The Leadership Secrets Of Santa Claus

This delightful book is still available on Amazon. Use my marketplace to order a copy for yourself. Over the next several weeks, I’ll update this post with a few more tidbits. For the whole secret… Please support the author and grab a copy.

1. Build A Wonderful Workshop

Santa Claus has a very specific mission. Make the mission the main thing. Make sure your staff can quote the mission verbatim and explain it’s significance. Make the mission a core component of decision making and work planning processes. Do you think the elves know the mission and it’s significance?

Focus on your people as well as your purpose. Santa Claus is the kind of manager who cares as much about his elves as he does the work that they perform.

Let values be your guide. The pillars of respect, integrity, quality, customer service, responsibility, and teamwork are paramount to building a wonderful workshop.

2. Choose Your Reindeer Wisely

Hire tough so you can manage easy. Santa doesn’t have time to deal with problem reindeer, or elves. Face it, When you spend all year ramping up for one big day – and then have to circle the entire globe making deliveries… You get the idea.

Good pullers don’t always make good leaders. Make sure that when you make a promotion, it’s the right person – for the right reasons. Make a list and test your candidates for both the tasks involved and the characteristics of the position.

Go for the diversity advantage. Fresh blood and a different way of thinking can be a great thing.

3. Make A List And Check  It Twice

Plan Your Work. Come up with clearly defined goals and well thought out plans to achieve them. Make sure that everybody in your Workshop has input on the goal setting process. Answer what, why, when, where, who, and how in as much detail as possible for each goal that you set.

Work Your Plan. Avoid “Analysis Paralysis”. Have frequent meetings to measure your goals against your benchmarks. Your benchmarks should not only ask if you are achieving your goals, but should also ask if these are the rights goals – still. Have circumstances changed since the goal was set? Do you need to change  your goals due to the changes in the marketplace, business environment, or strategies that you’re seeing today?

Make the most of what you have. Make the most of your time, your money, your materials and equipment, your employee talent and their expertise.

4. Listen To The Elves

Open your ears to participation. Involving workers in running the operation – and in the decision making that affects them – is a key strategy for leadership success. Do you remember when it was “just you” running the workshop? How about when you were an elf, before being promoted  to an owner or management position? Those who are closest to the work, are also the ones with great ideas for making improvements. Learn to listen with your ears.

Pay attention to how you’re perceived. Listen to your customers. Ask your customers and your employees questions to find out how you’re doing. If you’re going to ask… you MUST be prepared to ACT upon what you hear. Perceptions are realities for those that hold them.

Walk a while in their shoes. You have to get out into your workshop not only to talk and listen to the elves. You have to get your hands dirty and DO what they do. Experience what they experience. Then you have have to follow through and implement changes where appropriate to help the elves do their jobs better.

5. Get Beyond The Red Wagons

The only constant is change. Help everyone accept the reality of change. Acceptance comes more naturally when we can take pride in our past accomplishments, when the explanation for change is given, and when your employees are asked for input and assistance.

The Customer Is Really In Charge. Learn to listen to your customers and what their needs are. You can perform virtual field trips (phone calls, emails, letters, and internet research). You should also take real field trips. Go visit the customers you can.

Teach The Business Of The Business. The more your employees understand about how the business works, the more understanding they’ll be of change. Cross train both inside and across departments. Have different elves and reindeer attend non confidential senior staff meetings.

6. Share The Milk And Cookies

Help them see the difference they make. Take the spotlight off of you and put it on your employees. Nothing motivates employees more than knowing that they’re making a difference. Find ways to make that happen in your workshop.

Do right by those who do right. Good performance should be reinforced with positive consequences. Forget the adage that employees shouldn’t be rewarded for just doing their jobs and that you’re too busy to recognition. Without the elves and the reindeer just doing their jobs, “Where would you be on Christmas Eve”?

Expand the reinforcement possibilities. There are many, many, many low cost recognition alternatives. Find ways to get workshop-wide acceptance of the notion that recognition is everyone’s job. An “Attitude of Gratitude” should be one of your most important workshop values.

7. Find Out Who’s Naughty And Nice

Confront Performance Problems, Early. Many people dislike confrontation of any sort. In your workshop, do not make these fatal mistakes. DO NOT:

  • Make your response… no response.
  • Let is slide because he or she does good work
  • It’s not a problem right now, I’ll deal with it when it is.
  • Look for every excuse to avoid confrontation.

Coach “The Majority In The Middle”. In any situation there will be falling stars, super stars, and middle stars. If you like your coaching to be simple, remember these key elements:

  • Make sure everyone knows and understands the performance expectations that come with employment.
  • Give frequent and specific feedback on how they’re doing.
  • Teach them to set, manage, and achieve goals.
  • Hook them up with mentors from the super-star ranks.

Don’t Forget The Super Stars. Super stars in any walk of life still need to be worked with, involved, recognized, and rewarded. To keep them on your team and keep them growing:

  • Get them involved in decision making, strategy setting, procedure development, and problem solving.
  • Encourage them the teach and mentor others… including yourself.
  • Show interest in their work – and their lives away from work.
  • Hold their co-workers accountable for doing their jobs so that super starts don’t have to pick up the slack.
  • Don’t punish them for good performance. (Please buy a copy of the book…)

8. Be Good For Goodness Sake

Set The Example. You have to take the LEAD and be willing to “walk the talk”. You have to model the behavior that you expect from others:

  • Following all your rules and procedures
  • Treating everyone with dignity and respect
  • Never breaking a promise or commitment
  • Building superior quality into everything you do.
  • Consistently taking a stand for what’s right.

Establish GuideLines And Accountability. Ethics are so important, you can’t rely on your example alone to ensure that everyone does what’s right. Develop a workshop “What’s Right” test. Things that pass the test are ethical and support your mission and values.

Remember That Everything Counts. The way you talk to each other. The types of joke that you share. The commitments that you make and keep (or don’t keep). The workshop supplies that you don’t (or do) take home. The credit that you appropriately share (or don’t share) with your fellow workers. Everything counts for your people, and especially for you as their leader.

Closing Thoughts

To survive and prosper, you and your organization must be able to achieve “big things” during the year. You can’t get those big things done without effective leadership.

There’s no doubt that your elves and reindeer are depending on you – just as you depend on them. Get the book. Read the book and apply the leadership principles that are taught inside.

Get Ready For A Great Year!

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