Slide 1

The character of Santa Claus was introduced by Troy Sentinel’s Broadsheet in 1830 which was taken from Henry Livingston’s version in 1823.

It’s not easy being Santa Claus and managing a toy business. I need to smile, have a great attitude, and wear a heavy red-wool suit. The demands of the day will drain you. I am the manager and leader. I am responsible to gift-getters and gift-makers. There are workers to lead, letters to read, orders to fill, processes to manage, stuff to buy, stuff to make, standards to maintain, new technologies to adopt, skills to develop, elf problems to solve, and reindeer dropping to scoop. Market trends rapidly change. We were geared to make dolls and board games and then a movie came out in September and every one wanted video games. We had to do some last-minute scrambling! We were working 24/7 and had to deal with production and motivational challenges.

Two of my reindeer got sick and Prancer retired. My delivery staff was reduced by one third. The population increased 17%. They were exhausted Christmas Eve and were tired and ticked off. It takes a year to train new harness-team members. I was faced with reviewing reindeer resumes. Like most managers I have to deal with marketplace fluctuations. Here is an example: “Dear Santa, I thought I wanted that, but now I want this.” I am faced with budget cuts, staff reductions, employees who are either unwilling or unable to adjust to change, technology advancements, increasing demands for higher quality and better service, fluctuations in the economy, competing priorities, ever-growing performance expectations and a whole lot more.

You think your job is tough. You try recruiting in, and for, the North Pole; retooling your plant, and retraining your people every year to produce the newest fads in toys. You try delivering tons of presents all in one night.

It is not easy being Santa Claus, but I love what I do. People need me and depend on me. We are doing something important and that gives me the energy to carry the sack, lead the pack, and keep coming back.

Our vision is to provide peace and joy and our mission is to deliver peace and joy. We are in the toy business. But how can we fulfill the vision? What is the secret to meet all these challenges and responsibilities? We have nine practical strategies for leading others and getting big things done all year long. They’re called “The Leadership Secrets of Santa Claus.” They are my gifts to you.

You are not  required to believe in Santa Claus to learn from his experiences.

Slide 2

Santa’s Leadership Secrets

Choose Your Reindeer Wisely

Make A List and Check It Twice

Listen To The Elves

Get Beyond The Red Wagons

Share The Milk and Cookies

Find Out Who’s Naughty and Nice

Be Good For Goodness Sake

Did We Accomplish The Mission?


Slide 3.

Build a Wonderful Workshop.

Seek and receive a vision.

Make the mission the main thing.

Focus on your people as well as your purpose.

Let values be your guide.


Slide 4.

Choose Your Reindeer Wisely.

Hire tough so you can manage easy

Promote the right ones…for the right reasons

Go for the diversity advantage


Slide 5.

Make a list and check it twice

  A.Plan your work, work your plan, make the most of what you have.

     We develop our plans by answering 6 questions for each set goal.

    1.What needs to be accomplished?

    2.Why does it need to be done? (How does it contribute to our overall mission?)

    3. When does it need to be accomplished?

    4. Where am I/ are we now in relation to this goal?

    5. Who will be involved in accomplishing this?

    6. How will it be accomplished? (What specific steps and activities are involved, and what resources are required?)

 B. Schedule frequent progress checks as part of the work-planning process. Meet with the team and individuals-and encourage

     them to meet among themselves, without me – to measure the status of our goals against predetermined progress

     “benchmarks.” Ask the following:

   1.Is each goal still valid and doable?

   2. Are we where we should be in terms of attaining each goal?

   3. Have any conditions or circumstances changed since we originally set each goal?

   4. Do we need to make any changes to our goals, our action plans, or our performance levels?



     The purpose of the group is to identify and eliminate inefficient/wasteful business practices. Here are few strategies.

  1. Making the most of time:

      Prioritize tasks (do the most important thing first)

      Start and end meetings promptly – and issue agendas in advance.

      Teach time-management skills and techniques.

      Take advantage of time saving technology.

  2. Making the most of money

     Buy in discounted bulk whenever possible.

     Shop for the best prices on materials, supplies, equipment, and services.

     Use email to reduce postage and long-distance charges.

     Think pennies as well as dollars – a few cents saved here and there quickly adds up.

  3. Making the most of materials and equipment

     “Measure twice, cut once.”

      Reuse and recycle whenever possible.

      Be religious about preventative maintenance.

      Invest in extended warranties.

  4. Making the most of employee talent and expertise

      Involve the people with knowledge in the decisions.

      Match jobs with worker skills and interests.

      Enhance employee expertise through training and developmental assignments.

      Encourage employees to share their knowledge with others.


Slide 6.

Listen to the Elves

Open your ears to participation

Pay attention to how you’re perceived

Walk awhile in their shoes


Slide 7.

Get Beyond the Red Wagons

A. Help everyone accept the reality of change, Remember: The customer is really in charge, Teach “The Business” of the


  1. Compliment the elves on the excellence of making red wagons and their pride in their past accomplishments

  2. Introduce the change we are facing and explain why it is necessary.

  3. Allow time for discussion.

  4. Discuss the benefits to be gained

   a. Staying in business.

   b. Staying employed.

 B. Santa’s commitment:

   1.To provide the training and support that the employees would need to make changes – and feel good about themselves in the process.

   2. To demonstrate patience and understanding as they work their way through the learning curve.

   3. Make sure everyone understands the reason for the change.

 The more employees understand about how the business works, the more likely they are to accept and support change.


  Having different elves and reindeer attend, observe, and participate in non-confidential senior-staff meetings;

  Cross-training and rotating assignments within departments so employees can understand and appreciate the functions and challenges faced by,   their coworkers;

  A departmental “swap” program that allows individuals to experience how other businesses operate… and how we’re all interdependent in achieving the overall mission.

  Remember: The customer is really in charge

  Teach “The Business” of the business.


Slide 8.

Share the Milk and Cookies

Help them see the difference they make.

Do right by those who do right.

Expand the reinforcement possibilities


Slide 9

Find out Who’s Naughty and Nice.

 A.Confront Performance Problems Early; Coach “The majority in the middle;” Don’t forget “The Super Stars.”

  Examples of Mistakes:

  I overlooked tardiness of Joe hoping that it would magically go away.

  I sent out a memo to the entire work staff hoped that Joe would read it and get the message and correct the problem without my involvement.

  I looked for every excuse to avoid a confrontation with Joe and then one of the elves asked me when was I going to talk with Joe.

  I was furious with Joe and called him into my office and unloaded on him. We were both angry and tensions were high.

  Then Joe asked a question: If this was so important why didn’t you come to me sooner.

B. Coaching: Helping the elves and reindeer avoid problems and do the best work they can. Allowing my “Middle Stars” to do the following:

  Making sure that they know and understand the performance expectations that come with employment;

  Providing the training and resources they need to meet those expectations;

  Giving frequent and specific feedback on how they’re doing;

  Identify any obstacles they may be facing, and then doing something to eliminate those barriers;

  Teaching them how to set, manage, and achieve goals;

  Helping them learn from mistakes…and successes;

  Hooking them up with mentors from the super-star ranks;

  Staying aware of what they’re doing and “nipping in the bud” any problems that start to surface.

 C. My role is to be Santa the encourager, the developer, and cheerleader. Here are some things I must do:

  Get them involved in decision making, strategy setting, procedure development, and problem solving;

  Delegate extensively and avoid ‘Micromanaging” them;

  Encourage them to teach and mentor others…including me;

  Celebrate their accomplishments and successes;

  Provide them with highly specialized training and other career-growth opportunities;

  Show interest in there work…and their lives away from work;

  Hold their coworkers accountable for doing their jobs so that the super stars don’t have to pick up the slack;

  Avoid punishing them for good performance (You did such a good job at handling that mess).

  As the leader, the key to dealing with the super stars is to demonstrate – through words and actions – that you know and appreciate the fact that

  they are the nicest of the nice,


Slide 10.

Be Good for Goodness Sake

 Set the example; Establish Guidelines and accountability; Remember that everything counts.

 I must model the behavior that I expect from others. I must take the lead and walk the talk when it comes to things like:

 Following all rules and procedures;

 Treating everyone with dignity and respect;

 Always telling the truth;

 Never breaking a promise or commitment;

 Building superior quality into everything I do;

 Continually giving my best effort;

 Consistently taking a stand for what is right.


 A.The workshop “What’s Right?” test

  Is it legal?

  Does it comply with our workshop rules and guidelines?

  Is it in sync with North Pole values?

  Will it be comfortable, guilt-free, or even jolly to do it?

  Does it support our goals, commitments, and mission?

  Would I do it to my family or friends?

  Would I be perfectly OK with someone doing it to me?

  Would the most ethical person I know do it?


 B. Building Accountability:

   Keeping my eyes and ears open to what is happening.

   Providing on going feedback.

   Displaying “zero Tolerance.”


 C. Do we focus on integrity issues and examine our ethical standard?

   The way we talk about each other;

   The type of jokes we share;

   The little whit lies we don’t (or do) tell;

   The commitments we make and keep or don’t keep;

   The workshop supplies we don’t (or do) take home;

   The unimportant rules we follow or break;

   The level of quality we put into our toys;

   The fact that we don’t or do use the sleigh for personal business;

   The way we respond or don’t respond to the letters we receive;

   The credit we appropriately share or don’t share with fellow workers.


Slide 11.

Our customers: Did we accomplish our mission of providing peace and joy?

Our mission of delivering peace and joy on Christmas Eve had changed. Our customers were experiencing anger, hatred, and crime. We had to re-evaluate our products. We found the video, star wars, and Dungeons and Dragons games were changing the attitudes of the children. School shootings, disrespect for authority, teenage pregnancies, pornography were climbing. I gathered the elves and rein-deer to discuss our dilemma. We strayed from the vision and mission. We needed help. One of the elves said “There is a group of businessmen in Anchorage, Alaska, telling stories that are changing the lives of the citizens.” Let’s invite them to the North Pole. These businessmen are talking about a personal relationship with a man that has the power to change the heart of man, grant a gift of eternal salvation, give power from within, and had a sack of spiritual gifts. Santa these gifts bring peace, love, joy, patience, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance. Santa do you think this man would give us wisdom on how to improve the attitudes of our customers and help us to change our toys and games?

Santa how could we distribute this man’s gifts? Could we ask this businessmen’s organization to partner with us in helping fulfill our mission? We understand that they are in 160 nations of the world and flow in the gifts of the Spirit.

A strange thing happened at the workshop. Our attitudes changed and we had peace, love and joy. We had experienced our vision and mission. Santa thank you for introducing us to this Man. 

Here’s a thought to consider:

Many make the mistake of only seeking God’s blessing instead of celebrating His presence.  It is important to seek God’s face, not his hand.  We love God because of who He is, not because of what He has done or can do for us.  God is not an eternal Santa Claus.  We should chase His presence, not His presents.  It should not be just “I want blessings from God.”  It should be, “I want God.”  The marvelous thing about seeking the giver is that when you find Him, you also receive His gifts simply because He loves you.