9 Lessons Project Managers Can Learn From Santa Claus


With Christmas just around the corner, the child inside me whispered that Christmas celebrations would be incomplete if we don’t mention our beloved Santa Claus. Santa is someone who has to keep everyone happy, meet very tight customized-gift production schedule, manage a whole bunch of elves to get things done, and get all the gifts delivered to every corner of the world –that too in ONE NIGHT– without getting stressed out!

With aforementioned qualities, Santa Claus, apart from being children’s best buddy, also has some extremely valuable lessons for project managers that will help them in managing their projects efficiently. So put your winter woolies on and let’s head towards Santa’s HQ at the North Pole to find out how Santa goes about his business and what lessons project managers can learn from him and improve their project management practices.

  • Meet Stiff Deadlines

    deadlineNo one is good at meeting tight deadlines than Santa Claus himself. With only a night to deliver gifts to every home, Santa faces an uphill challenge. Santa wins the battle against time by staying a step ahead and deliver the right gifts to every child to bring a smile on their face. Project managers could also adopt his approach to complete projects before the deadline and make all stakeholders happy.

  • Surpass Expectations

    surpassHave you ever thought why every child loves Santa Claus? Why do they consider them their hero? The reason is simple. Santa Claus always surpasses their expectations by giving them better gifts than they expect. This is what makes Christmas special for kids. As a project manager, you can use the same strategy to good effect by underpromising and over-delivering.

    This positive gap between expectations and the delivered output will definitely impress all the stakeholders as the solution or product that’s been delivered will seem to more than what the stakeholder’s wanted it to achieve.

  • Set Clear Goals & Plan Ahead

Santa Claus always has a well thought out plan at his disposal and his helpers are fully aware of it, which is one of his success secrets. Project managers can enhance teamwork and collaboration by making the plans and goals crystal clear for team members. As Lawrence J Peter rightly said, “If you don’t know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else.”

  • Build a Diverse Team & Don’t Micromanage 

When it comes to building a team, Santa’s advice is that you should consider the strengths, weaknesses, interests and lifestyles of your team members and form a team with diverse skills. Instead of micromanaging your team, you should give them some breathing space so they can deliver the best results for you.

No one will make their best effort if you continuously keep micromanaging them. That is what Santa does and the results speak for themselves. Effective project collaboration and coordination enable Santa and his team of elves to deliver gifts to every house with a Christmas tree that too within a span of a night.

  • Delegate Work Efficiently

Having a diverse team is not enough and will not guarantee success especially if you do not trust them. Santa delegates his work to his elves efficiently and developed Rudolph by giving his glowing bright red nose so that Rudolph could guide sleigh through the cold misty night in the North Pole. The focus of Santa Claus is always on developing new leaders by assigning them key roles.
Similarly, project managers should also delegate work to his subordinates and monitor their progress instead of trying to accomplish everything on his own. Eli Broad, a successful entrepreneur highlighted this issue, “The inability to delegate is one of the biggest problems I see with managers at all levels.”

  • Stay Calm under Pressure

No matter how dark and cold the night before Christmas day might be, you will never see Santa being stressed out. Despite the odds being highly against him, Santa’s always calm and collected outlook helps him to prevail. He always looks for possible solutions and alternatives and never wastes time on moaning about the problems.

Project managers also have to deal with similar challenges as Santa Claus so they could learn a thing or two from Santa Claus when it comes to staying calm in tough situations. Project managers can also save their team from panicking if they handle the difficult situations calmly just like a Santa. Go back to drawing board and fix the loopholes with coordination instead of blaming your team members for the situation.

  • Motivate Your Team Members

Father Christmas understands that everybody is unique and motivated by different things, therefore, one size does not fit all. He uses different strategies to motivate his helpers and keep their spirits high. Secondly, efforts of each elf are acknowledged recognized. This keeps them motivated throughout the year and ensures timely delivery of gifts happens the next Christmas as well.

Likewise, project managers could also keep their team engaged throughout the project management process and get the best out of them if they understand their strengths and weaknesses, and devise a different strategy to motivate each team member. Never shy away from praising good work of your subordinates and reward their efforts for the company and they will return the favor with excellent performance.

  • Know What Your Customer Wants

Santa Claus is fully aware of gifts that children wants on Christmas because he keeps himself up to date with the latest trends. For some, it might be the latest gadget. For others, it could be the toy or train. Santa Claus does his best to deliver what you love the most at your Christmas tree. He wants to see all the children happy on Christmas. That is what project managers should do as well.

Try to know what your clients want and provide them that to achieve higher customer satisfaction level. The project managers should also be fully aware of the latest trends, tools, and technologies in order to facilitate their clients in a much better way. Small things can make a big difference. A little extra effort you do to know your clients could bring fruitful results and can do wonders for your project.

  • Love What You Do & Spread Happiness

The secret of happiness lies in doing what you love. Santa loves to bring a smile on everyone’s face that is why he laughs and stays happy because he loves what he does. Confucius, the great Chinese philosopher sums it up brilliantly, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” When going gets tough for project managers, they should bring out their inner Santa out and laugh to get rid of the tense situation.

Celebrate success with you team members and have fun. As they say, “Laughter is the best medicine.” It surely is especially for project managers who have to deal with work-related stress on a regular basis.

After reading this article, you might have realized that Christmas is not all about celebrations and gifts only; there are important lessons that project managers could learn from none other than our beloved Santa Claus that will help them to complete their projects successfully.