Do you know it's Christmas?

“Do they know it’s Christmas?” asked (Sir) Bob Geldof at the famous BandAid concert, in response to reports of the Ethiopian famine. His piercing rhetorical question asked whether people in the midst of a struggle for survival even knew it was Christmas.

Alas, it is not uncommon to hear about leaders who are so concerned with their own, or their organisation’s survival, that they are largely oblivious to Christmas (and similar special occasions). Some CEOs expect staff to continue to work long hours and deliver stellar results through the Christmas/New Year period. I suspect many people think that is perfectly acceptable. But it’s not, because it prioritises dollars over dignity, putting profit before people.

Do you know it’s Christmas, and what it means for your staff and their families? When I was younger (never really a wise place to start a comment) holidays were quite distinct and never invaded by emails or internet. Work ceased for most people leaving them free for social activities. While those days are long gone, have you stopped to consider the value of celebrating special occasions with family and friends? It’s good for your wellbeing to celebrate, and to spend time with those people who matter.

Celebrations are good for the soul

As the leader of an organisation, you can demonstrate leadership by showing an awareness of the accepted holidays and by stepping back to celebrate these with your own family and friends. Your example gives permission to others to take time out and celebrate.

Here are four tips for you to live the holidays well: 

1. Affirm what matters most

Regardless of what rituals and traditions people choose to observe, everyone appreciates that holidays offer a time for renewal of personal and family life. Cultivate a culture at work where people feel at ease to wish others well according to their own traditions. This can help foster goodwill and provide opportunities for everyone to get to know one another better. Consider ways to show an awareness of the holidays, while respecting a diversity of traditions. Doing so recognises that your people are not merely workers, but people whose lives are bigger than work. What are some of the ways you have recognised holidays such as Christmas?

2. Show gratitude with cards and gifts

Giving cards or gifts is a great way to show appreciation for those who work for and with you. The holidays are a perfect occasion to offer some encouraging words of affirmation. Appropriate gift exchanges between employees can be fun as well as fostering thoughtfulness and sensitivity to others and their personal interests. Consider making a special effort to serve those who work for you. Can you think of some unexpected way to serve and give to those with whom you work? 

3. Rest, reenergize, and set resolutions 

There is always a lot to accomplish before the holidays, so it can be a hectic and stressful time both professionally and at home. Be clear and reasonable with objectives and deliverables before the end of the year. Most people are familiar with New Year’s resolutions. Ensure that the holidays are sufficiently restful for you personally and for your staff so that you can be renewed to set higher goals and improve on your successes in the upcoming year. Rest and reflective distance can help clarity priorities. I use this time every year to reflect on my life, my work, and the year ahead? What are some ways you step back and take stock? 

4. Serve the community 

The holidays also offer us an opportunity to count our blessings and be mindful of those who are less fortunate. In addition to serving the community through charitable events and fundraisers, gratitude helps boost morale at work and puts our own challenges into perspective. You could raise money for a children’s hospital or serve a meal together at a local shelter. Many individuals and families, leaders and organisations perform exceptional acts of service at this time for those who have so little. What are some activities that you have been involved with that made a difference to others?

Let it not be asked or whispered in the corridors “Does the CEO even know it’s Christmas?” What are your ideas for how leaders can bring holiday cheer to the workplace, to families, and to the community?