Is Santa a Servant Leader?


Yesterday was our holiday party at Servant Leadership Institute. It was a wonderful time of enjoying holiday music, hearing people’s plans for the holidays, exchanging Secret Santa gifts and of course eating! Naturally, it got me thinking about dear old Santa Claus. Certainly Santa is a leader, influencing reindeer and all those elves. But is he a servant leader? Let’s examine the man as legend and you can decide.

Servant leaders show humility. I must say, Santa is a bit lacking in this area. Does he acknowledge the elves who made the toys? Does he give credit where credit is due? As a servant leader, it’s vital to give credit to those who really get the job done. Santa’s helpers are seasonal labor, but they still deserve credit for long hours and perseverance during the grueling holiday season. 

Servant leaders show the people they lead that they really care about them. How is he treating the reindeer? Does he care about their well-being as they fly all over the world? Funny, we never hear that Santa shares the milk and cookies.

Based on outward appearances, we would have to say that Santa has some learning to do when it comes to serving. But before we look too harshly on him, let’s remember his origins. This legendary character is based on St. Nicolas, a Christian bishop who helped those in need. It’s said his parents died when he was young and left him a large sum of money. He used the money to help other people. After his death, stories of his work for the poor spread from Turkey to other parts of the world. He became known as the protector of children and sailors and was associated with gift giving.

Knowing his story, I think we must conclude Santa is a servant leader at heart. Like all of us, he’s a work in progress. We don’t need to be a perfect leader to be a servant leader. Maybe this year, he’ll share the milk and cookies. We better bake extra, people!

Thanks for indulging me with reading a humorous look at a much loved legend in many cultures. However you choose to celebrate or not during this time of year, we want to send you a big package of hope, goodwill and joy this season. May your holidays be memorable in the most positive way because you served someone!