The Surprising Christmas Gift Every Leader Gives

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What leadership gift did you give this Christmas?

Beyond a year-end bonus, a staff party or retail gift card you slipped into someone’s paycheck, you gave something else far more important this year.

Because this year, and every year, you were distributing gifts of happiness…or unhappiness.

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
  • As Bill Hybels notes, 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.

I am reminded of this each year at this time during my annual reading of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”. For more than 20 years I have read this novella each December, and one description stops me in my tracks every time.

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.

Of course, you know how the story unfolds.

Through the visit of the three spirits, Scrooge undergoes a dramatic transformation of character and emerges as a better person. And a better leader.

As Dickens describes him at the story’s conclusion;

He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough in the good old world.

As leaders, may this be true of each of us in the coming year.


the author

Scott Cochrane

Lifelong learner, practitioner and coach of leadership, across more than 50 countries. Follower of Jesus, husband of Nora, grateful parent and grandparent.

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