I really enjoy the holiday season. Uplifting holiday music is blaring everywhere, bright lights and decorations cover up the drab of early winter, and even among all the traffic and hustle and bustle, there’s a palpable energy that lifts my spirits.
But the holidays can also bring challenges. Whether at home or at work, the rush to get everything taken care of–gifts purchased and wrapped, decorations hung, and preparing for the upcoming party (or whatever festive event is on your calendar)–can cause a lot of anxiety and stress. The way leaders behave at this time of year, is especially important.
To be clear–leaders in this context can be anything from a boss or manager, teacher, clergy, parent, caretaker, volunteer coordinator, etc. Essentially, anyone who has someone who looks up to them for care, support, guidance, and so on. And as a leader, the people in your orbit are looking for to you to be a calming, stable influence.
Below are what I believe to be the three most important ways to do just that:
Provide structure–whether you’re a young child looking to a parent or teacher to establish structure or a team member looking to your supervisor or coach, structure is comforting. Gone unchecked, it would be easy for the daily routines of life or work to get off-track with the festivities of the holiday season. Structure reduces uncertainty gives strength.
Express gratitude–during the holidays, the whole world is talking about gratitude. It’s on the radio, it’s on television and it’s all over social media. Imagine what it would be like to see and hear all of that and not know that you’re appreciated. It’s make it or break it time during the holidays.
Don’t be a Scrooge–on top of all the things you have to do to keep it together this time of year, it is important to add a dose of lightheartedness to your day and for the people around you. It is one of the most obvious times of the year when it is perfectly ok for the leader to be goofy. Tell a bad holiday pun, sing along with holiday songs, wear an ugly sweater or dress like an elf with red and white striped tights. Providing the people who look to you for leadership the opportunity to laugh is the best free gift you can give. Relish it.
Finish strong –
Life is messy and during the holidays it’s worse. But it’s life, and that is good. Let’s all take the opportunity to make sure the final days of 2019 are the best they can be for everyone we care about.