5 Reasons Santa Claus Is A Better Manager Than You


Ho, ho, ho – Christmas is near and your year as a manager will end soon. Time to have a critical look at your managerial capacities: what is the one leadership skill you evolved with last year, what was your biggest success this year and what is your greatest deficiency as a people manager?

How do you compare to Santa Claus? Santa does not run out of style, he is a charismatic leader, respected authority, he manages a stable team of top performers (and if one of the elves or reindeers left, he managed well because we did not notice anything), the client experience is excellent and he gets the job done year after year by respecting a strict deadline and remaining calm, reassuring and positive.

Here come the 5 key success factors that make Ol’ Santa a better manager than you:

  1. Have a clear personal branding: Everybody knows what Santa stands for, there are no bad surprises with him, people can rely on him and feel secured. And foremost, he is consistent which is a major characteristic followers look for in a manager (and I look for in my candidates in my job as a headhunter by the way). Consistency will be interpreted as something positive whilst inconsistency will often be seen as a sign of either insincerity or weakness. Like every good manager, Santa is predictable and has a clear communication (“Be good for 12 months and you will get the bonus by the end of the year. Be nasty and you won’t”). People know what Santa expects from them and what they can expect from Santa. Full stop.
  2. Be an early mover: No discrimination here but Santa looks pretty much like a 50+ to me (and just to make sure as this is public: I do not have a problem with this). The thing we can learn from him is that he always comes up with the newest inventions, gifts and gadgets and thus adopts new technologies fast. There is no “it worked fine the old way so why should we change?” Santa has a natural curiosity, tries new things out and embraces change with open arms. Successful people adapt fast, especially in today’s challenging business world. What got you here won’t get you there. Ask yourself regularly if a decision or direction you took 12 months ago is still valid today. Reassess and correct your decisions if appropriate; upgrade yourself (e.g. through executive education) if you risk running out-of-style
  3. Follow-through, respect your promises and deadlines: Santa Claus is working quietly for 10 months, the communication flow increases by the end of the project launch and whatever happens, we can be sure that he and his team will deliver on Christmas Eve. One of the biggest evils of management is to start too many new incentives, projects or action plans and fail on the follow-through and follow-up. Make sure you can deliver and have the energy and resources to go to the end. Followers are very sensitive to this and will see it almost always as a weakness if you stop an initiative half-way through without any explanation. There can be exceptions when a project is abandoned, but if this happens, inform your team of the reasons if you want to remain credible and be respected.
  4. Do what needs to be done: Santa Claus and his team have a clear mission to achieve: ‘Get the presents ready on Christmas Eve’. How can this story help you if your job is private banking? Peter Drucker answers: “Successful leaders don’t ask ‘What do I want to do?’ They ask, ‘What needs to be done?’” Follow Peter Drucker’s advice, don’t complain or complicate things. Do not lose energy on things you cannot change or waste time with things that are off-core. Most jobs consist of a limited set of skills, focus on these and become better every day. Change things you can change, accept those you cannot and move forward to the goal you have set.
  5. Be good: Mr. Christmas does not cheat, bully or lie. We have never heard of any sex or financial scandals or any other snafu that we read about in the corporate world daily. Nobody can blame Santa for unfair behavior towards his teams, his customers or – as far as we know – his shareholders. Not only is he 100% ethical, at the same time, he is positive, caring, smiling and protective. He breathes respect and gives people security when he is around. All this gives him natural authority, not one implemented through title or hierarchy. Make this philosophy yours, help the world to become a better place and at the same time, ensure that your teams will work hard for you and make everyone inveolved happy. Got the message?


Season’s greetings to all of you, may you believe in Santa Claus or not. There is some lesson to be learned for all of us. May 2014 be an even better year for your teams but most of all your families and yourself.

See you again on 6 January 2014 on this blog and if you have not yet registered to the newsletter, do so here above, right hand side.

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Jorg Stegemann
Jorg Stegemann - Headhunter, Certified Coach and Business Writer - is the Managing Director of Kennedy Executive Search. Apart from running our company blog, he writes for Forbes, BBC and other media.
  1. Marie-Cecile Reply

    You’re right Jorg no one can compete with Santa Claus… Season’s greetings to all

  2. Apostolos Reply

    Hi Jorg,
    Very smart !!!

  3. Charbel Reply

    As usual, a great inspiring input from Jorg. Merry Christmas!

  4. Axelle Reply

    Merci Jorg pour votre billet plein de sens et d’humour ! Très bonnes fêtes à vous aussi

    • Jorg Stegemann
      Jorg Stegemann Reply

      Merci, Axelle. Bonnes fêtes à vous aussi

  5. Maged Reply

    Really nice and to the point.

    Merry Christmas to you Jorg.
    Hoping best wishes for your personal and professional life.


    • Jorg Stegemann
      Jorg Stegemann Reply

      Thanks, likewise!

  6. Michael Reply

    I am wondering if he’s an equal opportunity employer as it seems that only the race of elves gets to work in his company. And I equally wonder how he treats his reindeer. since his address is hard to find in a physical location we have no idea of the working conditions. It’s quite possible an elf or reindeer never made it out to complain, much like a gulag :-)

    • Jorg Stegemann
      Jorg Stegemann Reply

      Good points, Michael!

  7. ritu Reply

    thanks . really inspiring !

  8. Liz Reply

    Is this a case for experience over qualification?

    Merry Christmas

    • Jorg Stegemann
      Jorg Stegemann Reply

      Good point, Liz. As far as we know, Santa Claus has no formal qualification.

      • Liz Reply

        Perhaps next year life will not be so rosy for Santa, I hear the elves are demanding higher salaries after their success in The Hobbit!

  9. Samir Reply

    Many thanks for this inspiring post!
    Certainly these attributes that create an environment of trust, commitment and initiative so that everyone will contribute his best towards achieving the goals and also grow as individuals.

    Wishing all of you a Merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year!


    • Jorg Stegemann
      Jorg Stegemann Reply

      Thanks and likewise, Samir

  10. Jeff Reply

    Hello all, I am very new to this site which was introduced to me by a co-worker. I have seen many interesting topics but, Jorg you hit this on the head. Many miss these 5 points to become a better manager, myself included. Great topic and hope to keep those points in mind. Merry/safe Christmas and New year to everyone.

    • Jorg Stegemann
      Jorg Stegemann Reply

      Thanks, Jeff. Same to you and your family

  11. Vesna Reply

    amazing, smart and witty texts.

    Keep up the good work Jorg!

    • Jorg Stegemann
      Jorg Stegemann Reply

      Thanks, Vesna

  12. Eduardo Reply

    And Santa Claus does not exist. Is this the main common point between Santa Claus and a good manager?

    • Jorg Stegemann
      Jorg Stegemann Reply

      This is mean, Eduardo. What did they do to you? What happened?

      • Eduardo Reply

        I was kidding. In fact,I have been a manager for a long time, and I hope people who worked with me don’t agree with my comment… Anyway, it was a way for me to say that good managers are not easy to find. They do exist, but not as much as we would like.

        • Jorg Stegemann
          Jorg Stegemann Reply

          Thanks, got it.

  13. Barbara Reply

    Personal branding really stand out…manage people with kindness, warmth and laughter.

  14. Philippe Reply

    Hello Jorg

    That’s an interesting comparison at this period.

    The fact is that on growing and getting older, children don’t believe to Santa Claus anymore.
    On getting experience, employees discover that perfect manager doesn’t exist, even good ones’ are very rare…

    But maybe, as it is new year wishes’ period also, is “having at least good managers” a nice one…

    Merry Christmas and happy new year

  15. Pratima Reply

    Excellent post. keep posting

  16. Michel Reply

    thanks Jorg, i got the message. Excellent, i never seen santa on this side. you give me another reasons to believe on him

    • Jorg Stegemann
      Jorg Stegemann Reply


  17. Francois Reply

    Is Pere Noel a good husband when coming late after a hard night ? Not sure he has succeeded in developping personal life after work. Important I think
    Enjoy Christmas and come back in 2014 as shape and smart as you are in 2013

    • Jorg Stegemann
      Jorg Stegemann Reply

      Hi Francois,

      As far as we know he has no partner in life nor kids. Does he drink and/ or smoke at least? Weird guy…


  18. Laurent Reply

    Red could be 2014 colour… Any address for a red suit ?
    Thanks Jorg
    BR and happy new year

    • Jorg Stegemann
      Jorg Stegemann Reply


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