He manages a global supply chain across 195 countries and delivers annually to a non-flexible deadline. Between 2013 and 2018 his existing UK customer base of 12m is projected to increase by 4% yet he continues to achieve challenging business objectives at the end of every calendar year.  

He has never requested a Christmas bonus but early on the 25th December 20013, Father Christmas is expected to reveal, once again, that he is one of the World’s most effective leaders. According to Tinder-Box Business and Coaching Consultancy, all modern business leaders should be looking to the North Pole to learn from Father Christmas’ World class leadership and management style. 

There are five particular leadership habits, perfected by Father Christmas, which offer the most valuable lessons.

1. Maintain a cheerful disposition

“Motivation is business critical” says Jason Miller, expert in business strategy and organisational development at Tinder-Box.

“Teams take their cues from their leader who sets the tone for how an organisation behaves. In this case, a cheerful disposition is key to the Father Christmas brand and by staying happy and cheerful, others follow his lead and standards of service and production all remain high.”

“Success means that Father Christmas must keep motivation high for 364 days of the year in anticipation for Christmas Eve. This is no easy task, so he works hard to maintain a happy disposition ensuring that children, parents and staff associate him with these values and look forward, throughout the year, to seeing him again.”

2. Optimise short term resources of reindeers with the long term development of elves

“The North Pole offers a restricted recruitment pool so it is essential that Father Christmas has a high performing team with every member understanding their own strengths and weaknesses and those of their team members,” says Jason. 

He comments, “While Father Christmas keeps the vision for the team in mind and is responsible for upholding reputation and succession planning he is careful to place the most suitable people in the most suitable roles.  For example, the Elves specialise in meeting longer term objectives of making toys throughout the year and mentoring the younger elves to maintain a resource pipeline, while the Reindeers train to deliver over the short term on Christmas Eve. All make vital contributions to the team performance.”

3. Maximise teamwork by recognising the individual strengths of Rudolph and Prancer

“Father Christmas may choose to place Rudolph at the front of the Reindeers because he has an amazing talent for navigation,” says Julie Williams.

She continues, “As a good leader Father Christmas will also appreciate that Rudolph has a natural tendency to become exhausted from over excitement. To counteract this, he may choose to partner Rudolph alongside Prancer or Blitzen who can act as a pace-setter to ensure that the team has enough energy to deliver through the night. Father Christmas never fails to appreciate the role of each team member including that of ‘personal coach and mentor’ provided by Mrs Christmas and her ability to provide a subjective view on the day to day operations.”

4. Remain adaptable to accommodate customer needs

“Father Christmas is an expert in one of the least appreciated strengths of leadership,” says Carole Miller, an expert in continuous improvement.

“He can adapt his team to ensure that he remains on target to meet objectives.  His processes allow for change and flexibility while remaining focused on the overall aim.  I understand that this year, Father Christmas’ research has resulted in him making extra space on his sleigh for lots of Teksta Puppies and the rather large Lion Chi temple from Lego which are in high demand from customers,” says Carole.

“His business flexibility is best demonstrated in his ability to keep in touch with his customers and to alter his systems to enable the North Pole to receive requests via post, twitter and email. He continues to recognise the importance of technology to his customers and has even formed a strategic alliance with NORAD the bi-national U.S.-Canadian military organisation to set up a website for children to follow him this Christmas Eve at www.noradsanta.org

5. Celebrate with a mince pie but learn from eating too many

“It is no mistake that Father Christmas and the reindeers do not eat every mince pie and carrot left for them on Christmas Eve,” comments Jason Miller. 

“When Father Christmas reflected on performance he found that eating a mince pie or carrot at each house to celebrate a successful delivery had a detrimental cumulative effect in the long term.    It added unnecessary weight to the sleigh, left reindeers feeling sluggish and prevented speedy trips down future chimneys. Only by taking the time to reflect and to learn from mistakes, has he been able to learn and change.  Now just a bite of mince pie or carrot is enough to celebrate success and to maintain team motivation and harmony,” he says.

There is little doubt that Father Christmas holds the most high-profile of leadership positions, manages an intrinsically detailed operational element and a demanding customer base but the parallels remain the same for any business.  Success is dependent on a leader who is able to motivate, inspire and position a team towards maximum performance. At this festive time and after such a taxing year Father Christmas serves as a valuable reminder of those key leadership skills.

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