Girl Missing Two TeethRecently I was sitting at a table next to a young girl — no more than six years old — and I noticed her two front teeth were missing. I took particular note because I suffered from a similar fate when I was her age, and it happened to be around Christmas time.

In the States, there is a staple holiday song. You guessed it: “All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth” [link but caution: cute overload!]. Rather than take you down memory lane any further, I thought I would take this theme and put it into future-tense form and offer a Christmas wish list for 2013. In the following, I am speculating on what might be on a Christmas shopping list for managers this year. For starters:

A homemade humble pie

I believe that, in today’s world, managers — especially those who really want to lead others — need to instil a bit more (actually a lot more) humility. It is high time that we challenge the still-prevalent “do and tell” culture of management in which the most basic premise is that every manager already knows what the problem is and should have the solution ready to convert into a command to the workers. Bah Humbug, I say.

A stocking filled with generosity

I am not talking about dropping some extra coins in the local charity can. Nor am I thinking about spending a little more on gifts for loved ones this year. I am talking about giving yourself; perhaps in a way you might not have in the past, in which you put yourself on the line for others that with whom you work. Ask yourself: how can I help those who have been helping me meet my goals all year? Generosity as a virtue (giving without expecting anything in return) just might be a change for the good for all of us.

Stewardship wrapped in a bow

Everyone who manages is, in truth, a temporary manager. Promotions, demotions, attractive job offers from other firms — there are many reasons why you may not be managing the same team/company/business next year. I’m asking you to think about an important question: what will people say about the job you did after you leave? Did you perform in a way that proved that the trust invested in you — to leave everyone in a better spot than when you started — was well-placed? By demonstrating this form of trust — indeed, by spreading this form of trust to your associates — you are giving yourself and others the chance to show that acting in the collective interest is both possible and profitable.

A voucher redeemable for time

The most valuable thing we can give to others is our time. Please use some of this priceless temporal voucher to reallocate your time in thought; think more, think differently, and think about how you spend your time during most of the year. Are you spending it in the right places, with the right people, and for the right reasons?

As you put together your own list of Christmas wishes, remember that little girl who so desperately wants to get a new set of front teeth. I can only hope that our own wish list is as obvious to the world as it is to that little girl.

Happy Holidays!

Peace On Earth!