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A Governor's StoryOrder a personalized and signed copy of the political bestseller

 By: Jennifer M. Granholm and Dan Mulhern


Praise for A Governor's Story   

"Governor Jennifer Granholm faced extraordinary challenges with grace, intelligence, and tenacity. In a weak economy, no state was hit harder than hers. She embraced the challenge of rebuilding Michigan's economy for the 21st century with new ideas, new jobs, and new businesses. In 2010, Michigan had the largest drop in unemployment in the U.S., thanks in large measure to her tireless effort. A Governor's Story is a remarkable narrative. Everyone who wants to revive the American economy and restore the American dream should read it."

- President Bill Clinton 


Dan Mulhern's Be Real 

By: Dan Mulhern


Praise for Be Real 

"There is no one better at presenting the life of everyday leaders than Dan Mulhern. No one. Be Real is full of real stories of real leaders doing real things. The stories will make you laugh, cry, and cheer. Be Real 

is a must-read for every citizen-leader." 

- Jim Kouzes

co-author of the leading book on leadership,

The Leadership Challenge

Messed Up Santa Claus Leadership 

November 26, 2012


This is schizo season, when all we want is to enjoy the holidays, but for so many of us the holidays feel like just one more thing we have to do. We have a lot to do: We're grading papers, or making last minute sales calls, or budgeting, and, and, and. So, my plan is to make "Reading for Leading" light and lively these next few weeks. But still focused.


So, we grew up in a 3 bedroom ranch, about 1100 square feet in Inkster, Michigan (I just checked on the internet and it's still there, valued at $47,000.) I was one of 7 kids. Christmas rocked at our house. But once in a while Santa messed up. Like bringing Pat, who had asked for Hot Wheels, the Memory Game instead; and bringing Jimmy the Hot Wheels. Of course, we didn't notice the knowing "ooops" glances my mom and dad exchanged at such moments.

Now as parents and bosses we repeat the same messed up mistake that Santa made 50 years ago. We give folks the wrong gifts.


The best gift any manager or parent can give their "direct reports" is the specific gifts they need to be successful. Some want the Hot Wheels of excitement, a race, a challenge. And others like the cerebral peace of a good game of flipping thick cardboard squares to find the pairs. To put it in more adult and direct terms: some like warm and sincere hugs, and some like cold cash; some like lots of specifics, while others like to be left alone to figure out the how; some need nearly daily deadlines, while others resent being handed deadlines, and some others need AND resent deadlines. Some love social lunches, and some would love the flextime to get home to their kids. Some need the big picture. Some just need to be given the specific assignment.  So, how do you know who wants what . . . without stealing their letters to Santa?*


Observe. Test. And ASK. So often, as parents and bosses we think it's our job to know what people need, or we just treat them all the same. But forgive the obvious: no two people are alike. And the best way to know what they want and need is to ask them. Ask 'em: if they have enough detail, if they'd like preliminary deadlines, if they want to work alone, and how they like to be recognized when they have done great work.


Maybe sometime in the next few weeks you can ask each of your folks what they need from you in order to be successful and satisfied.


If Santa Claus can ask people what they want, so can you, as you


Lead with your best self!



* There's actually a lot you can figure out about your team, just as you can with your kids - by paying close attention and using good tools of observation.  The varieties of personalities and gifts that I describe in this paragraph is based transparently on Myers-Briggs preferences.  If you know the tool, you'll see I've described: F's then T's, S's and N's, P's and J's and T's and F's (with some combo cases thrown in).




Visit Dan's online store for these leadership resources ...

Be Real: Inspiring Stories for Leading at Home and Work

Be Real:  Inspiring Stories for Leading at Home and Work
Everyday Leadership: Getting Results in Business, Politics, and Life

Everday Leadership:  Getting Results in Business, Politics, and Life
"Getting Unhooked" from people who are killing you at work.

Getting Unhooked from people who are killing you at work
Be the Parent Your Children WANT to Follow

Be the Parent Your Children WANT to Follow
Copyright 2012 Daniel Mulhern. Reading for Leading is a weekly newsletter that discusses the challenges of leadership at home, work, and in life. I distribute Reading for Leading without charge to people with an interest in leadership and grant permission to recipients to distribute copies of these works to personal contacts for non-commercial purposes only. All other rights reserved. All other requests for copying and distribution of these works may be submitted to mulhern@danmulhern.com. The views in this and other RfLs reflect my personal beliefs and may or may not reflect the views of my wife, Jennifer Granholm, or any other public figure or government official. Invite your friends and family to subscribe to Reading For Leading by sending your request to mulhern@danmulhern.com or by entering your e-mail address in the signup box at the top of my website.