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A Surprise from Santa is a Leadership Lesson

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in Remarkable Leadership with Kevin Eikenberry

Perhaps the most viral video on YouTube this week is a Santa Surprise put together by WestJet, a Canadian airline. The video highlights how Santa talked to some people before they boarded a flight, and when they arrived at baggage claim at their destination, the gifts they asked for arrived, wrapped and from Santa! (The 5:25 minute video can be found here. I highly recommend you watch it!)

While there are significant leadership and business lessons about Customer Service, they are also pretty easy to see. Rather than focusing on those, I’d like to highlight a deeper and more lasting leadership lesson the video provides. Specifically, I want to highlight three lessons.

Leadership and Culture

WestJet says their company culture is focused on “Fun, Friendly and Caring,” and this event certainly highlights that culture, doesn’t it? 150 WestJet volunteers were involved in planning and creating this “WestJet Christmas Miracle” and many other inflight and ground crew employees were involved as well.

This is company culture taken off of a conference room wall and put into practice. This event is something that employees (whether they were involved directly or not) will talk about for a long time. This kind of event provides meaning and purpose to the work people do every day. And when that kind of purpose exists, people want to be at work, they want to work hard, because it matters.

If you want employees that feel that way, you must lead in that way, and while you may not capture it on video or create an online sensation, the message can be just as important in your organization.

Leadership and the Work

Most people want to come to work and be stimulated and challenged by their work (even some who wouldn’t admit it freely). Do you think the planning, technology and execution required to make this event happen might have created some work of that type? There is no doubt. Do you think that work raised the morale and productivity of those employees while they were on this volunteer project and for several months to come? I’d bet on it.

As leaders we help people define and craft their work — and we can influence what that looks like and how to support people in making it more challenging, and perhaps even fun.

Leaders Make it a Great Place to Work

After watching this video, I am guessing two of your thoughts were: I’d love to fly that airline, and perhaps, I wonder what it is like to work for them? I’ve flown WestJet and I can tell you it has always been a great experience. And while I haven’t worked for them, I am confident it would be a great place to work! Just yesterday, I posted a more complete set of thoughts about our leadership role in creating a great place to work. If you have enjoyed the rest of this post, you will want to read it too.

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