Even Santa Claus can strengthen his leadership...

In the run up to Christmas, Performance Reviews are one of many tasks leaders need to complete. Santa (in spite of his seniority and experience), is not exempt from this process.

When HR recently  discovered he’d never had a performance review, I sat down with him to reflect on his leadership and help him set his goals for next year.

Although Performance Reviews are usually confidential, he happily gave permission for his to be shared in the hope that you can learn from what he’s done well and where he agrees he can do better.

Here’s an extract….

2022 Leadership Performance Review

Name: Santa Nicholas Claus      Role: Bringer of Cheer and Goodwill       Location: North Pole

Teams: Mrs Clause (2IC), Elf Squad, Workshop Squad, Reindeer Squad

Santa’s Demonstrated Leadership Strengths:

  • Clear Vision and Strategy

Santa continues to communicate a clear Vision and 365 Day Strategy to achieve it.

While it doesn’t vary much from year to year, his entire North Pole Team are in no doubt about what needs to be achieved by the deadline.

With a shared goal, Santa's team is clearly committed to delivering Cheer and Goodwill around the globe on 25th December.

  • Diversity and Inclusion

Regardless of his stakeholders’ faith, beliefs or circumstances, Santa continues to engage with anyone whose parents, families and friends sign up to the concept of Christmas gift giving.

He never discriminates and stands firm in his belief that everyone deserves a little extra happiness at this time of year.

That said, there are areas for improvement including actively breaking gender, cultural, age and ability stereotypes within his team.

  • Ability to Deliver to a Deadline

Despite countless changes to the project plan throughout the year, Santa and his team are to be commended for always meeting their 25th December deadline.  Good news - they are definitely on track to reach their annual milestone this year!

Special recognition must be given to Santa for leading his team through the challenges of COVID-19 when they managed to break through social distancing limitations without a single elf contracting the virus.

  • Ability to Identify and Develop Potential

It’s widely recognised that Rudolph (with his nose so bright) was somewhat of a loner and outcast amongst the Reindeer Team.

Yet, on a particularly dark and perilous Christmas Eve, Santa realised how vital that bright red nose would be to ensure his sleigh and team could safely complete their mission that year.

Promoting Rudolph to the Lead Reindeer position (in spite of considerable opposition from his colleagues), has proven to be invaluable.

Santa is also to be commended for the way in which he engaged the Reindeer Squad members to overcome their fear of change, accept, embrace and work with Rudolph’s signature strength.

  • Able to Flex and Adapt

Every year brings new challenges, including unpredictable weather, tricky chimneys, naughty children and internal politics, including conflict flareups amongst the Elf Team.

Although their project plan remains basically the same, Santa continues to use his extensive experience and demonstrate his ability to adapt the plan to ensure his team delivers on schedule.

Santa's risk management and  contingency plans provide ongoing evidence that there is always a 'Plan B' for any unforeseen circumstance.

  • Interpersonal Skills: Optimistic, Cheerful, Determined, Consistent, Inclusive

Santa continues to be eternally optimistic and cheerful, no matter what’s going on around him.

While some in his team find this irritating (and somewhat deluded), there’s no doubt that even in the darkest of times, he can always be relied on to see every challenge is an opportunity.

It must also be noted that the empathy, patience and determination he demonstrated when managing the behaviour of a particularly vexatious elf this year has ended in a positive outcome for all involved.

Santa’s Leadership Development Areas

  • Resource Management

Every leader has a ‘blind spot’ and Resource Management is one that Santa will need to work on next year. Whilst Cheer and Goodwill are limitless, the manufacture of presents draws extensively on the world’s limited and depleting resources.

Perhaps increasing the giving of non-material gifts next year would help?

Again, no matter how many times Santa asks for more elves and reindeer, neither team will be expanded. He must continue to work within his existing staffing allocation and the introduction of a 4 day work week next year means that doing ‘more with the same’ will require creativity and innovation.

  • Reaching the Overlooked and Underprivileged

Whilst Santa is commended for his diversity and inclusion strengths, he is encouraged to act on his awareness that there are still many people around the world who miss out at Christmas time. Without Cheer and Goodwill, this time of year is particularly bleak for them.

Developing new and effective strategies to deliver to those who often go without will be a top priority next year.

Santa is encouraged to set up a special task force (using existing resources) to explore ways to add the gifts of Hope, Connection, Kindness and Generosity, particularly for those most in need.

  • Delegation

Whilst it is widely recognised and accepted that Santa is the ‘face’ of Christmas, there is an opportunity for his senior leadership team and a number of high potentials to take on more visible roles.

This will provide growth and development for them and the opportunity for Santa to share his responsibilities, whilst developing his coaching and mentoring skills.

A stretch goal for next year could be to develop a global team of Christmas Ambassadors with representatives from every country, which would also strengthen the mandate for diversity and inclusion.

Summary

Overall, Santa continues to do very well and while he won’t be receiving a pay rise or bonus (his work is all pro bono), he'll use his strengths to further develop his leadership next year.

2023 Theme

Together with his North Pole Team, Santa has decided their theme for next year will be:

Enabling the best of Tradition and Transformation to work together to
make the world a better place

Santa and his team will be taking a well-earned break from 26th December to 1st January when they will begin planning for next year.

As you prepare to end your year on a fabulous high, reflect on your achievements and development areas. Which leadership strengths can you consciously apply to do even better next year?

Wishing you and your teams a relaxing and peaceful holiday season.

Carpe diem

Looking for help to strengthen your leadership and team next year?

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About Caroline

Caroline Cameron is an award winning, master certified executive, career and business team coach, workshop facilitator and speaker. Caroline is on a mission to help mid-career professionals and evolving organisations harness the power of change to achieve success in business, work and life.

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