You think you have challenges? Imaging leading the team tasked with delivering presentsto children all around the world in less than 24 hours!
Surely Father Christmas must have some valuable leadership secrets to share, and I was delighted when his Head Elf arranged an interview for me. Here are the key messages I took from our conversation.
He makes it sound quite simple – align the whole team on purpose, communication and motivation, and then underpin this with massive productivity.
‘Everyone in the team, from the littlest Elf who makes my hot chocolate, right though to Rudolf, knows their purpose. They understand how their work contributes directly to the work of their immediate team, and the purpose of the whole Christmas operation.’

Santa explained that being so clear on purpose means that everyone pulls together to produce results way beyond what seems possible.

Elves are cheeky and mischievous – a difficult workforce to lead (think herding cats). Clear and open communication is vital.

‘Conflicts? Of course we have them. The situation gets quite tense when we are debating who’s on the Naughty-List and who’s on the Nice-List. Conflict is the source of our creativity – it’s not personal.’
Of all the teams I have worked with, it seems that the North Pole folks really do live open and honest communication.
Father Christmas maintains this is the most important leadership dynamic. He and all his team leaders pay significant attention to getting the right person in the right role, so that each is playing to his strengths.

Ever wondered why the Elves have such boundless energy? It comes from doing work that energises them.

This is the one that had me most perplexed, and I am not sure that I fully understand it even now… Father Christmas draws on productivity that exponentially increases from February (they all sleep though January apparently) to December 25.

‘We work 24/7. What that means is by 24 December we do 24 years worth of activity every 7 seconds. How else would we get all round the world in one night?’

You can track progress of the sleigh via the NORAD (North American Aerospace Defence Command) website from 24 December. It’s pretty cool.

How would aligning purpose, communication and motivation boost your team’s productivity?

Season’s greetings to you all and best wishes for an Extraordinary 2103.
PS We are taking a break over Christmas and the next extraordinaryNews will be in late January.


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