The Surprising Christmas Gift Every Leader Gives

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Have you watched (or read) A Christmas Carol this year?

To me, the Christmas season doesn’t begin until I’ve taken in this Dickens classic (preferably the Alistair Sim version!)

Not only does this story contain so many timeless Christmas themes, but it also carries an important leadership truth:

Leaders have the power to give the gift of happiness, or of 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.

This point is delivered beautifully in 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.

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?”

Perhaps the coming year will be one in which 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

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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