That’s right, even Santa Claus has his own book of leadership secrets. We’ve heard from everyone from Jesus, to Churchill, from the Roosevelts Teddy and Franklin and to the whole gang of bad guys in my friend Steve William’s great book Notorious. And now Santa himself has entered the leadership arena with a book of his own. The Leadership Secrets of Santa Clause: How to get big things done in your “workshop” all year long. As told to “creative elf” Steve Ventura.
Besides being fun to read, this is the best kind of advice book, filled with sound, but simple to understand advice that makes a lot of sense. No frills, no flurries and best of all no charts. Just good honest advice on leadership from the big guy himself.
I have found over the years that the best advice is human advice, by this I mean when leaders treat their people as people and as not a part of a system. That’s why I normally lean towards books like this one.
It has also confounded me that most business owners who I know have not spent a lot of time on leadership, which I think is not only a shame but a serious contributor to the lack of effective leadership in companies in our industry.
Although it’s true that some people are born leaders, most of us are not. Most of us have to study, read, emulate other leaders, and do whatever we can to become great leaders. That being said, reading books like this one is one of the best ways to learn leadership.
Here from this book are some great tips on being a good leader: Italics are my comments
- Be accessible (physically and mentally) to employees who would like my attention. To this I say amen. Be intentional when you talk to your people. Truly listen to them to the point of hearing what they have to say.
- Be considerate of staff-members’ needs. Nothing says leadership like caring for your people. People in leadership positions who don’t care about their people, get the respect they deserve.
- Provide employees with the training, tools, resources, and feedback required for success. Just like leaders need to be trained, everyone needs to be trained continually. You never know enough, you never can achieve full mastery of your position.
- Keep employees in the loop: this goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyway because assuming that everyone knows is always the wrong thing to do. Part of being a good leader is repeating the same messaging over and over again. This might sound boring, but it is the only way to make sure you always have solid communications and keep everyone in the loop.
- Help team members maintain an appropriate balance between their professional and personal lives: yes, pay attention to this. Especially when you are dealing with people under a lot of pressure. It’s better to play the long game making sure everyone is healthy both physically, and mentally, so they will be around and productive for a good long time.
- Demonstrate respect for employee’s time and talents…as well as respect for them as individuals: managers who refuse to do this are not leaders, they are simply managers, and they will never gain the respect and admiration from their team that a true leader needs to have.
- Solicit, and listen to, staff members’ ideas and concerns: this is a tough one for a lot of people. Sometimes the hardest thing for a leader to do is to listen, and of course hear what her people are saying. But it is also the most important thing for a leader to do. People need to know their opinions are valued so that they can know they are valued.
- Help everyone develop and grow: This is so important; I suggest that you put everyone on your team on a career path plan. A great leader will consider himself the steward of his associates’ career. He is the one person who has the most influence on the individuals on his team while they are on his team. He has the power to make or break their careers. This is a great deal of responsibility and the true leader treats it as such.
- Fairly distribute, the work and the workload: The operative word here is “fairly” yes of course, make sure that everyone does their fair share of the work. But also make sure that everyone gets to share in all the projects, especially the more challenging ones that will provide them with the career experience they need to learn and grow.
And finally, my own idea, get them ready for the next step, prepare them to be the leaders of tomorrow as well. This you will do with your actions, as well as your words. I always urge the managers I work with to train their people as if they were going to be their successors, in the end one of them will most likely be just that.
The one test of a great leader is what the people on your team, the people you are managing, think of you as a leader. Ask yourself this. Would my team follow me through hell no matter what? If the answer to that question is “yes” hopefully a resounding “yes!” then you are a truly great leader. It’s only common sense.