I love this time of year because I am a sap, I love all the feel-good movies, and I only get to watch them without family judgment during the holidays. Watching "Elf" in July is frowned upon in our family.
I was sitting and watching one of my favorites, Love Actually, and as Billy Mack was reciting his famous song "Christmas is All Around Us," I realized there is a leadership lesson here to share.
Leadership is all around us, all the time. Sometimes we witness good leadership examples, and sometimes not so much.
As leaders, we should take full advantage of every opportunity to grow.
John F. Kennedy once said, "Leadership and Learning are indispensable to each other."
Take every opportunity to learn from the examples you witness in your day-to-day. If you like how a colleague or other person handled a particular situation, make yourself a mental note.
And if you didn't, think about how you will handle something similar if you were in that exact situation.
Just today, I had an issue with a company, where I had ordered something for the Holidays, and they mis-shipped it. I was genuinely impressed, how the agent on the phone did not even hesitate, she just replaced the order instantaneously.
Bucket list item: I want to work on a team where every team member is trained so well they resolve similar situations just as well as Irene did for me today.
As a special treat, I asked a few people to share with us some of the leadership lessons in their favorite Christmas movies.
From my college roommate- Michael Grey, Sodexo USA
Leadership Lessons from Gremlins
OK, so you most don’t think of Gremlins as a Christmas Movie. Granted, on the surface, it doesn’t share much with movies such as “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
However, if you look a little deeper, or perhaps throw some water on it, you’ll see it has some great holiday themes under that furry exterior.
It takes place during the holidays, it uses many holiday props and settings, and the whole thing is set up by the desire of a father to give his son a unique Christmas present.
There are many themes in the movie, but there is one from which we can draw lessons about leadership.
For example, early in the film, precise directions are presented to the lead characters to maintain a clear level of performance to be successful, (don’t get wet or feed after midnight).
The goals are "clearly" communicated; however, the effects of not following the rules are not made clear. Ultimately, the commitments are broken, mayhem ensues, and the consequences are worse than anyone expected.
Great effort and energy are needed to fix the problems that resulted from a cascading failure. That effort distracted from the goal of having a fun and relaxing holiday and replaced with lots of yelling, running and chaos.
Gremlins may be an extreme Hollywood example, but the point made is pretty clear.
Leaders must communicate needs, expectations, and outcomes to ensure the basics are executed consistently.
There are many positive results of doing the basics right: Teams can spend time on innovating, celebrating and growing instead of backtracking to manage processes that have gotten out of control.
Thanks, Gizmo for the valuable lesson!
Now from My brother- Stephen Gold, Highgate Hotels
Leadership Lessons I learned from “The Grinch.”
The Grinch was the outsider, not part of the team, but he was able to lead the Who's toward the true meaning of Christmas. His enormous impact on the Who's came from the outside, without them even knowing he was operating.
When he was done changing the Who's world, he had taken them to a new place, a less material Christmas.
To me, the lesson is obvious; you can help move a group forward without joining in. The right pressures from the leader can open the door to the desired results.
When the Grinch stripped the Holiday down to the barest bones, and all the fancy tools and trappings of the Holiday celebration are removed, the Who community was still able to pull off a beautiful Christmas morning.
The team hit the mark on all of the essential points of the holiday; they were all together, they all felt loved, felt a part of something bigger than themselves, and they enjoyed the holiday, as illustrated by their holding hands and singing. Despite what most organizations would have called insurmountable setbacks, the Who’s came together and got the job done.
The Grinch made some terrible choices. He complained about the Who's instead of speaking to them. He broke into their houses! He worked tirelessly on stopping them from doing their thing instead of trying to work with them. He made it “one" or "the other" instead of “and” and “together.” He even lied to a baby to keep them from finding out what he was planning; he was operating in the dark.
But despite these tremendous missteps, he was able to make amends in the end.
He was even allowed to carve the Roast Beast, as a valued member of the team.
Missteps and mistakes do not need to be the end of the line. The Grinch made amends, and the Who's and the Grinch moved forward together.
Thank you, Mike and Stephen, for your contributions.
As always, I welcome your feedback. Please email me at:
I want to wish you all a very Happy Holiday Season and a Happy New Year.
Two thousand nineteen will be bigger and better for all of us.