The Surprising Christmas Gift Every Leader Gives

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Leaders have the power to give the gift of happiness, or of unhappiness, to those they lead. And the Christmas season is an ideal time to assess how effectively you have been distributing this precious commodity.

This is not to say that the primary role of the leader is merely to ensure the personal well-being of everyone on the team. But effective leaders know that:

  • Leaders influence the culture of the team

  • The team culture will never be more healthy than the leader wants it to be

  • A healthy team is far more likely to produce sustainable positive results.

This point is delivered beautifully in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

It is found in Stave II as the Ghost of Christmas Past escorts Ebenezer Scrooge on a visit to his former place of employment. There Scrooge experiences again the tremendous joy he received from his old employer, Mr. Fezziwig.

And as he reflects on the leadership of Fezziwig, Scrooge offers a powerful leadership insight;

“He has the power to render us happy or unhappy; to make our service light or burdensome; a pleasure or a toil. Say that his power lies in words or look; in things so slight and insignificant that it is impossible to count and add ‘em up; what then?

The happiness he gives is quite as great as if it cost a fortune.”

The power to render others “happy or unhappy” falls within the purview of each leader. And each leader has a responsibility to exercise that power with wisdom and with intentionality.

For me, the Christmas season is incomplete until I have read A Christmas Carol, and have viewed the Alistair Sim version of this classic tale. In part, this is because of the annual reminder it gives me that, like Fezziwig, my leadership affords me with the opportunity, and the responsibility, to be a distributor of good-will.

And so as the year comes to a close a worthwhile question for self-reflection is, “Are those who have been influenced by my leadership this year generally happier, or unhappier, than they were a year ago?”

Commit that, in 2019,  you will purpose to increase the happiness quotient of those you lead.

That could indeed be a powerful leadership Christmas gift.

the author

Scott Cochrane

Vice President- International, Willow Creek Association. Love Jesus, Nora, Adam & Robin, Amy, Dave & Willow and John, Fiona & Will. Lifelong learner.

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