It’s common to feel stressed during the holiday season. In addition to your daily responsibilities, you must also review your year-end checklist, which is a formal list of tasks you set at the end of the financial, business, or calendar year. Additionally, there are managing time-off requests and balancing life outside of work, such as shopping and family gatherings.

In any case, you’ve gathered an arsenal of tools to help you through the holiday madness from tackling everyday work issues. Find out how your workplace skills can be transferred to holiday leadership success so you can lead your team to a happier and more productive holiday season.

1. Come up with a game plan.

No matter what industry you’re in, planning ahead is key. In some cases, employees can request time off until three to five months before the holidays. But that depends on the policies you’re established and how you schedule your business during the holidays.

When it comes to holiday time off, employers usually put in place a rotating cycle, so everyone gets a fair shot at it. When you plan ahead and have a limited amount of time off around the holidays, you’ll keep things running smoothly.

Moreover, determine how to deal with all potential scenarios. For example, which team member will step up if you get sick? In the face of adversity, you can stay calm and proactive with a game plan.

2. Don’t overstretch yourself– or your team.

It’s easy to try to fit too much in during the holidays when there are extra demands on your business and extra holiday activities outside of work. Get realistic about what you and your team can and can’t do throughout the most wonderful time of year.

There is no way I can emphasize this enough. Being realistic is key.

How can you be realistic with your limited time? Your number one objective should be to focus on key priorities and goals. Also, make sure your team doesn’t get overburdened or overworked. Ensure that you stay in touch and are on hand to assist with any issues that arise. And provide them with the tools they need to achieve their goals.

As we approach the pre-holiday season, Ginger Christ suggests taking a moment to center yourself. The hustle and bustle of the holiday season can be overwhelming.

Check in with yourself and your team between activities with “mini transitions.” You may want to spend a few minutes in silence, listening to your breathing, or closing your eyes. It’s a quick and simple way to reset and refresh.

3. Focus on team building.

The holidays are all about spending time with friends and family. But this certainly also includes people on our teams. You may want to spend a few hours or an entire day developing camaraderie within your team during the holiday season. You might even be able to write this off on your taxes.

In every aspect of life, relationships are crucial, and the holidays help us realize that they take time to develop. While seasonal get-togethers are common, take advantage of the opportunity.

Here are some holiday-themed activities, games, and events for teams to enjoy during December:

  • Decorating the workplace together
  • Carol karaoke
  • Ugly sweater party
  • Secret Santa
  • White Elephant Exchange
  • Seasonal Scavenger Hunt

4. Find opportunities to learn.

A leader is always learning. You can also surround yourself with people who can help you learn. When you spend time with different people during the holidays, such as out-of-town relatives, you gain a different perspective and learn something new. For example, it’s unlikely that you’ll care about Aunt Vicki’s sweet potato casserole’s secret ingredient. However, leaders should always strive to learn new things.

5. Manage vacation requests as a team.

The prospect of someone taking more than a couple of days off for the holidays can make you feel nervous if you’re managing a team. The truth is that few businesses are overstaffed or can afford temporary workers. As a result, some managers ask employees to work hard before a vacation or to check in periodically during vacation. Although this works in some cases, I recommend planning the team’s vacation schedule proactive by involving everyone.

If you’re managing a team of ten, say that at any given time, you need three team members working and let them figure it out together.

Also, make sure you’re flexible on your end, too. A remote employee can, for example, work during the holidays if they are going on vacation.

When you plan team vacations together, you cultivate an atmosphere of transparency and communication, and you demonstrate a sense of respect for the team’s vacation time, which improves leadership and motivation.

6. Avoid turning into a Grinch because of stress.

According to a survey conducted by health marketplace Sesame in 2021, 70% of Americans are feeling more financial stress than they did in 2020. 60% of Americans reported increased anxiety during the holidays, and 52% reported increased depression during the holidays. Other top stressors included shopping, managing kids’ expectations, and navigating family dynamics.

However, leaders have additional stressors. For example, when other employees are on leave, managing a skeleton staff can be a stressful situation.

Stay on top of your stress levels during the holidays and see how it affects you. It’s okay to take a step back and regroup if holiday stress is making you feel like your heart is two sizes too small.

In addition, make sure you provide the support your team requires. And, to start, you should also admit your stress, says Christ – don’t pretend to be happy. Being honest with yourself will help you be honest with others.

When stress mounts, mega multitasking may be attempted. In reality, your brain isn’t built to multitask. Focus on one thing at a time instead; it’s more productive, say Psychology Today experts: ‘When we focus our energy specifically on one task, instead of trying to do multiple tasks at once, we are able to accomplish more in a shorter period. Work quality improves, as does our work attitude.’

In addition to being able to achieve your priorities and leave work earlier, managing your time effectively will help you and your team manage stress. Therefore, you will have more time and energy during the holidays to do the things that make you happy and joyful.

7. Give back.

Apart from making a profit, businesses need to give back to their communities. Leaders should reserve time in their busy schedules so that they can participate in organizations such as Habitat for Humanity and local soup kitchens. Other ideas include putting care packages, hosting your own fundraising event, or thanking loyal customers with discounts.

You’ll be able to improve camaraderie and communication, as well as get closer to your team members, customers, and community when you do this.

8. Practice gratitude.

Leaders who express appreciation are more influential, respected, and happier, studies show. Also, according to a Glassdoor survey, 81% of employees would work harder for a grateful boss. The best part is that positive recognition spreads. The power of a simple thank you to motivate prosocial behavior has been proven by research.

What’s more, gratitude can make you a more effective leader. It also improves job satisfaction. And it elevates your mood.

While you should show your team gratitude throughout the year, there’s no better time than now. After all, the holidays, particularly Thanksgiving, are a time when we recognize what we’re thankful for. And you can do this at work by:

  • Writing personalized thank-you notes.
  • Immediately acknowledge individual accomplishments.
  • Thank your team publicly, like highlighting achievements at the end of meetings.
  • Host an annual office party.
  • Give end-of-bonuses or extra time off.

9. Keep your own wellness top of mind.

Taking good care of yourself is as important as looking out for your team. After all, taking responsibility for others’ well-being is a heavy responsibility.

It is important to remember that you are human as well as resilient. As such, if you need to delegate, don’t hesitate. Also, schedule meaningful breaks, as well as time for exercise and meditation.

Also, follow, and share with your team this bit of expert advice:

“During this year of collective suffering, we need each other more than ever. Expressing empathy in small ways while also extending kindness toward ourselves can once again make helping other people feel like a joy, instead of a burden. And cultivating joy in your life can make any burden you’re carrying feel lighter, too.”

It’s all about nurturing the “Happy” and the “Merry” during this season, so let’s lead with the “Happy” and the “Merry.”

10. End the year on a high note.

It’s likely that your team members are struggling to stay motivated after a year of hitting ambitious goals. Encourage them and congratulate them on their achievements before they leave for the holidays.

It’s important to recognize employees for small victories as well as big ones. A good idea would be to get good customer feedback or meet a short-term goal.

Discuss your team members’ goals for next year with them as well. Make sure you’re also open to hearing about goals for your team, company, and personal development. As a result, you’ll build stronger relationships with your team and understand what motivates them.

[Related: 12 Leadership Skills That Will Kill Your Company]

Image Credit: RODNAE Productions;; Thank you!