The Leadership Lesson Hidden in a Classic Christmas Carol

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This Christmas season, hopefully you can enjoy singing carols with no thought other than the simply enjoying these wonderful songs.
But if you simply can’t turn your leadership radar off for even a moment, you’ll no doubt spot timeless leadership truths in many classic carols.None more so, than in Good King Wenceslas.Though the song likely contains as much myth as it does fact, it is widely regarded as being based on a real person, and the events depicted in the song are a reflection of the “good King’s” character.

As such, the carol serves as a timely seasonal reminder of one of the highest callings of leadership; that of compassion.

According to the carol, Wenceslas observed a poor man gathering firewood on a bitterly cold winter night. Moved with compassion, the king asked his page to accompany him in bringing food and drink out to the man.

As they journeyed out, the night became too cold even for the page, at which point the King ensured that the page walk behind him, so that the page would be protected from the biting wind.

If this classic carol accomplished nothing more than to fill you will the yuletide spirit, it has done its job.

But don’t be afraid to delve into the leadership qualities it espouses too.

For here you’ll find here a leader who:

  • Was aware of needs around him
  • Was quick to move to action
  • Could build a team
  • Would not ask someone to do anything he wasn’t willing to do
  • Was a servant leader
  • Was driven to meet the needs of those he leads

(If you haven’t sung this carol for a few years, you can find the lyrics here.)

So at your next Christmas gathering, enjoy all that the season has to offer. And when the carols are being sung, join in with full gusto.

And should Good King Wenceslas be included, take a moment to reflect on the leadership principles it contains.

It could enrich both your Christmas and your leadership.

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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