Seven Gifts for Every Leader This Christmas

Gift BoxSanta is making his list and checking it twice. He’s going to find out which leaders have been naughty or nice. Actually, I think any person willing to step into a position of leading and managing others deserves whatever he/she wants for Christmas! (Try selling that to your spouse or significant other and see how far it gets you!)

If I were to play Santa at the office Christmas party, I’d give the following gifts to leaders:

1. A Sense of Humor – I’ve noticed that a lot of leaders have forgotten how to have a good time at work. Managing people can be quite stressful and it’s easy to get focused on all the problems that have to be solved and the fires that need putting out. This Christmas I would give every leader a healthy dose of fun and laughter as a reminder that you should take your work seriously but yourself lightly. Play a practical joke on your staff, send a funny joke via email, or even better, laugh at yourself the next time you goof up in front of your team. You’d be amazed how a little bit of levity can go a long way toward improving the morale and productivity at work.

2. The Chance to Catch Someone Doing Something Right – Too often we’re on the lookout for people making mistakes and overlook all the times that people are doing things right. Of the hundreds of clients I’ve worked with over the years, not once have I had one say “If my boss praises me one more time I’m going to quit! I’m sick and tired of all the positive feedback I’m getting!” Unfortunately the opposite is true. Most workers can recall many more instances where their mistakes have been pointed out rather than being praised for doing good work. Be on the lookout this holiday season for someone doing something right and spread a little cheer by praising them.

3. An Opportunity to Apologize – Despite our best leadership efforts, there are bound to be times where we make mistakes and let people down. One of the surefire ways to lose trust with people is failing to admit your mistakes or not apologize for a wrong you’ve committed. Take some time this holiday season to examine your relationships to see if there is someone to whom you need to apologize. If so, don’t let the opportunity pass to repair your relationship.

4. A Challenge to Overcome – A challenge to overcome? Why would that be considered a gift? Well, my experience has shown that the times I’ve grown the most as a leader is when I’ve had to deal with a significant challenge that stretched my leadership capabilities and forced me to grow out of my comfort zone. I would bet dollars to donuts (and would be happy losing because I LOVE donuts) that your experience is similar. Challenges are learning opportunities in disguise and it’s these occasions that shape us as leaders.

5. Solitude – Everything in our society works against leaders being able to experience regular solitude in their lives. Technology allows us to always be connected to work which is just one click or touch away. If we aren’t careful it can begin to feel like we’re “on” 24/7. Regular times of solitude helps you recalibrate your purpose, relieve stress, and keep focused on the things that are most important in your life and work.

6. A Promise to Fulfill – Keeping a promise is an opportunity to demonstrate your trustworthiness. The best leaders are trust builders, people who are conscious that every interaction with their employees is an opportunity to nurture trust. This gift comes with a caveat – don’t make a promise that you can’t or don’t intend to keep. Breaking promises is a huge trust buster, and if done repeatedly, can completely destroy trust in a relationship.

7. Appreciation – Leadership is a noble and rewarding profession, yet leaders can go through long stretches of time without hearing a word of thanks or appreciation for their efforts. I would give every leader the gift of having at least one encounter with an employee who shares how much he/she has been positively impacted by the leader and how much the leader is appreciated by his/her team.

There are many more gifts that I’d love to give, but like most of us, I’m on a budget this year. However, I’m curious to know what other gifts you’d give to leaders if you were playing Santa. Feel free to leave a comment with your gift ideas!

17 Comments on “Seven Gifts for Every Leader This Christmas

  1. Thank you Randy for this great post. I really liked. I’m going to try to apply these principles at my work place as much as I could. I like 1st one the most. A lot of times we, the leaders, want to be serious so that we won’t lose authrority over our subordinates. People respect you when care about them not when they scare of you.I think a leader who has a sense of humor is more approacble and accessible.

    • I’m glad you found this post helpful! I love your point that people trust you when they know you care about them, not when you scare them.

      Best regards,


  2. thanks for the 7 gifts this Christmas (blog)…good one…can i use it to circulate to few of my American 7 European friends..? thanks again…MP

  3. Howdy Randy, Thanks, All the Best for your Christmas and a Great New Year!! I am forwarding to a couple of clients but it was good for me as well. Jack Douglas Cerva Coach/Faciltator Bangkok, Thailand

    Date: Sun, 16 Dec 2012 18:02:26 +0000 To:

  4. Thank you, Randy! Wonderful blog post!

    If I may, I’d like to add an 8th gift suggestion. Give your leader a copy of my new book, Lead the Way.

    I’ve been training leaders for over 30 years. Thinking about what it takes to become a more effective leader, I realized that the roadmap to leading effectively is not a secret. In fact, the way has been known for a long time. This little book is an attempt to capture the way, describing it in a practical manner so that anyone who desires to lead can do so.

    So give it to your boss. Give it to your client. Give it to yourself.

  5. Thanks Randy for the sweet reminder on “Great Leadership Qualities”. Merry Christmas to you!!

  6. Hi Randy! Great post, thank you! During this season of giving, I have 2 more to give…

    1) “The knowledge of behavior profiles of the leader and the staff”: Having great self-awareness as a leader- of why you behave the way you do- goes a long way in being able to communicate, act and react successfully. The same goes for the team: being able to understand each individual’s behavior profile allows them to interact better with each other and the leader- resulting in less stress, better understanding, greater efficiency and more successful endeavors!
    2) “A lower position on the org chart”- that is, when it is flipped upside down. Leadership often means having the confidence to hire people smarter than you and giving them the support they need to excel. Positioning yourself near the bottom of the inverted org chart shows that you are there to support your staff: making their job easier and allowing them the autonomy to think freely, explore their ideas and develop realistic and relevant solutions.

    Merry Christmas to people everywhere!

    • Those are wonderful additions Jill! I’ve found that it is extremely valuable to have and understand behavioral profiles of everyone on the team. Self-awareness and regulation of your behaviors is critical for success in the workplace and is often the one area that holds people back. Turning the pyramid upside down is a hallmark of servant leaders that build high trust relationships. It springs from the mindset that the leader is there to serve, not be served.

      Great thoughts!


  7. Pingback: Seven Gifts for Every Leader This Christmas | Organization Survival Playbook |

  8. Thanks for the great blog post, too bad i found it after xmas but still looking forward to apply your ideas in future.


  9. Pingback: Seven Gifts for Every Leader This Christmas | Ingleburn High Education |

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