One of the first assignments I give my students as they begin their journey in the Masters in Leadership Programs at Albertus Magnus College is to think of a person they consider a leader and write a bit about what makes them a leader. Below is one of the most creative essays I have received in my years of teaching on this topic. As we continue along in this holiday season, please enjoy the work of student, Fred Gardner, who wrote the below in 2010, and details his ‘experiences’ with the leadership of Santa Claus.
The first person that comes to mind when I think of a leader is Santa Claus. I recently took a brief trip up to the North Pole (in my dreams) where I was granted a rare interview with the Christmas Corporation’s Chief Executive Officer, Santa Claus himself. I was amazed to find him very calm, poised, and confidently in control so close to the “big day”, as he reverently called it; right before he leaned back in his chair and bellowed out a jolly “Ho-Ho-Ho”. I asked him how he could be so jolly with such a monumental task at hand. He said, “It’s a simple thing called ML”, with a twinkle in his crystal clear eyes. I leaned forward and whispered, “what is an ML?” “HO-HO-HO” he responded even louder than before.
Santa then asked me if I had the time to share a cup of hot chocolate with him so he could share the secret of his success. Just as I heard the door opening, two giant mugs of coco were already being delivered by his efficient elves. I nodded my head as he was already blurting out, “Magical Leadership my dear boy, that’s what the ML is, Magical Leadership.” As I intently watched the small little elves bobbing their cute heads from side to side as they scurried across the room without spilling a drop, I thought to myself, couldn’t we all use a ‘ML’. As the elves scampered away an approving smile which radiated the room (and actually chimed!) was shown by Santa to his team.
Proudly, Santa then asked me, “Do you see how great my team members are,” publicly praising them as they clicked their little boots and proudly departed with their elbows out. “I have surrounded myself with an incredible team and I use ML instead of MC (Management and Compliance). Whenever possible, I basically stay out of their way, they are the experts at what they do!” Still a bit amazed at seeing the efficient elves and tentatively sipping my cocoa, I looked up inquisitively as he continued. “The key ingredient of the ML is Christmas Spirit”, he proudly proclaimed as he took a giant gulp of the perfect temperature cocoa. I frowned as I sensed he was telling me the same mumbo-jumbo I heard from my parents when they didn’t have a real explanation for all the presents on Christmas morning. The Christmas Spirit is made up of several magical ingredients which make the leadership part effective. He continued that the key to magical leadership is passion, inspiration, and the most important element…which he paused and let out his un-containable belly laughter before continuing, is the infectious joy I have for my work!
Santa continued with a glimmer in his eye, “now you know the secret of the Christmas Corporation’s manufacturing success, but wait to you hear how I deliver the product to the…….” Sadly, I then woke up and found my leadership text hitting the ground. I guess I will need to wait until my next class in My ML, the Master of Arts in Leadership, to learn more ways to lead and perform effectively.
Happy Holidays to all, and to all a good night…
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