Please join me while I peruse this highly interesting booklet. We might learn some life lessons. After all, it has over 250K copies sold, even though I got it from a box of free books at the local bookstore. It is an advance reader copy. Strange how an ARC has so many copies sold.
Let’s read it, even though I don’t want to become a middle manager. I can imagine though that Santa Claus has some good leadership advice. After all, he has to deal with high expectations, market fluctuations, and nobody believes in him. In this book he shares 10 essential leadership secrets, which won’t be secrets anymore afterwards.
You know what, instead of reading this book as a self-help management book, this can also be read as a serious effort to expand the Santa Claus mythos. Christmas time lore and Santa worldbuilding is about to receive a serious upgrade. This might be the Silmarillion of the Santa Claus universe. Man, all those Tim Allen movies are going to be even more dated after this.
So what is he up to during the year when we don’t see him? The first thing we learn is that Santa Claus keeps his elves in the information loop. He also gives them leadership classes. And not every elf or every deer has the right resume to enter his workshop. He hires tough to manage easy. New deer do have to be committed to responsibilities like teamwork and customer service. How sad. I fear that this book is going to undermine all that is jolly about the Santa Claus stories.
My first takeaway from this book is that even Santa’s workshop cannot escape the banalities of office life. I didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry. When Harvey talks about how Rudolph became a “lead reindeer”, I realized that even Santa’s reindeer are a team with inner competition and all the banal office space jealousies and tensions that always happen when you put 12 strangers together and demand that they cooperate.
This is the saddest book I have ever read. It takes everything that fun and jolly and replaces it with management lingo.
The elves aren’t happy because they are elves. They are happy because Santa lets them know how they are making a difference. The reindeer also join the regular State of the Workshop meetings so that they know what is going on in the business.
I guess I did learn something important here. All those management clichés about leadership and teamwork are some kind of necessary evil. If I can believe Yuval Noah Harari in his book Sapiens, then humans work well in groups of about 150 acquaintances, but whenever that group grows larger, we need shared beliefs to keep cooperating. And when we need to get things done, like making toys for all the children of the world, you need some kind of culture to keep things running.
As Santa says: Ho ho ho, but don’t forget the snow…