Leadership Lessons Learned From “Arthur Christmas”

I’ll begin this post with a big “SPOILER ALERT” in case you haven’t seen the movie “Arthur Christmas.”  Of course we rented this for the kids but as I watched I found it contained some terrific lessons.  The movie is all about Santa in modern times flying around in an air craft that puts the Star Trek Enterprise to shame.  The art of delivering toys is so corporate and high tech that this Santa, who is on the verge of retirement, can no longer keep up with the frantic pace of toy delivery.

Santa’s espresso drinking, smart phone wielding son Steve is the brains behind the operation and the logical heir to the throne.  After another successful Christmas of delivering millions of toys around the world and all of the hoopla and celebration are through, a maintenance elf discovers that one toy was missed.  Enter Arthur, Santa’s younger, awkward and funny-Christmas-sweater-wearing son who is astonished at the fact that they missed one child.  Steve and Santa seem content to sweep this under the rug in favor of convenience, but Arthur (with the help of nutty Grandsanta) plots to deliver the final toy.

After a whirlwind adventure, Santa, Grandsanta, Steve and Arthur converge on the final house where a fight ensues between Steve, Santa and Grandsanta to see who gets the glory of delivering the final gift.  It is at that point that we realize that Arthur is the only one with the best interests of the child at heart.  The others care only about glory and status and Arthur is focused on what’s most important.  Ultimately Santa, tabs Arthur as the new Santa.  The movie ends showing the various cast members a year later in their new roles that they are ideally suited for and they are happy.  Here are the lessons I learn from a Communicate Better Blog perpective:

  1. Own Your Mistakes: We’ve talked about this in past posts (Read “To Err is Human…”) but if you make a mistake that negatively affects your customer, regardless of whether or note they will notice or speak up, own up to it and fix it.  There’s no excuse or substitute for doing the right thing
  2. You Will Make Mistakes: Always approach your work with a healthy level of humility.  If you are human you will make mistakes so do the right thing when they happen.
  3. Believe And Live Your Mission: In this movie, Arthur was the only person focused on the customer while the others were focused on status and promotion. Arthur understood that true happiness is found if you focus on the right things.
  4. Hang Onto And Reward Employees Focused On The Right Things: While it took time to refocus, Santa ultimately realized that Arthur, not Steve loved kids and understood that Christmas was so much bigger than himself.  Arthur knew with every core of his being how to be Santa.
  5. Put Employees In The Best Position To Succeed: In the end Steve becomes the COO of North Pole operations because he was really good at his job and deep down loved it.  While he clearly didn’t have what it took to be Santa, his true strengths were recognized and he was placed in a role where he could thrive and be happy.

As you may gather, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie.  If you watch “Arthur Christmas,” I would love to hear what lessons you learned.

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  • Well thanks for the warning–I actually never heard of this movie before but now really do want to see it.

    Your lessons are spot on and it’s interesting how important the mistake section is. Even if the mistake isn’t personally yours (maybe something happened with a server, etc) you apologizing still means SO MUCH to the customer because you took that ownership.

    I think that this, and your Toy Story post, mean that we should have a customer service movie viewing party! How fun would that be? Maybe as a future assignment, we could all find a movie that has some of these values/lessons and do posts about them. I don’t know one off the top of my head but I’ll keep my eyes open!

    • Love the idea of a movie night. Totally as you watch movies just look for lessons to write about. Maybe watch the classics like Office Space or The Office. I recently watched the movie “Outsourced” and that was pretty good. A little more serious that the TV show.

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