Frosty and Rudolph

Rudolph Was an Unlikely Leader


So what makes a great leader rise up in difficult or unlikely circumstances? Let’s take a look at one famous example of an unlikely Christmastime leader named Rudolph. So legendary was his rise from outcast to front-man, Johnny Marks penned a simple song to tell his story simply titled Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer
had a very shiny nose.
And if you ever saw him,
you would even say it glows.

Poor Rudolph was different than everyone else on his team. There are a variety of reasons for not fitting in which include:

  • Conflicts in personalities
  • Gender disparity
  • Ethnicity distinction
  • Age differences
  • Political stances
  • Pre-conceived notions

All of these things can make one stand out from the herd. And although the attributes may be inaccurate they can thwart relationships from materializing. In Rudolph’s circumstance he had a big red nose so he was physically dissimilar than the others, not much something he could hide.

All of the other reindeer
used to laugh and call him names.
They never let poor Rudolph
join in any reindeer games.

All of the other members of Rudolph’s team used to exclude him, laugh at him, and call him names because he was so different from everyone else. They disliked him so much because his nose was different that they never let poor Rudolph join in any of the team activities–the team shunned him. In Rudolph’s case, he let this disparity get him down. At first, he did not understand different is not necessarily a detriment. Being different allows you to look at things from an alternate perspective, it gives you strength where others have weakness, it helps to balance out the team making them more rounded.

Then one foggy Christmas Eve
Santa came to say:
“Rudolph with your nose so bright,
won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?”

There came a time when things started to get challenging for the world-traveling team. A fog rolled in the visibility for the team started to cloud over. If the outlook did not change and if someone did not step up to the plate soon, Christmas would be ruined. It was time for innovation! As everyone soon realized, Rudolph’s detriment turned out to be exactly the tool needed to get the job done. He was able to turn things around and he led the way on a jubilant trip around the globe. That night Rudolph brought his team out of the fog and successfully delivered toys across the world to millions of girls and boys. He was a hero!

Then all the reindeer loved him
as they shouted out with glee,
Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer,
you’ll go down in history!

Perseverance Prevails

In the end Rudolph prevailed. He accomplished something no one ever thought possible. When everyone else had given up, Rudolph kept the vision alive by staying focused and shinning a bright red light on the prize. His leadership rallied the troops and brought them through a tough time when it appeared to everyone there was no hope.

As we now know, Rudolph is the most famous reindeer yet he remains humble, as he knows it takes much hard work to keep his leading role, he knows to never give up and always remember it’s a team effort; not just one member can steal the show–it takes teamwork, Pulling Santa’s sleigh is a team effort and the reindeer must work as a team to succeed.

And let’s not forget about the leadership of Santa! It takes a true leader to recognize potential in people and know when to put the right player in the game. It takes a truly good captain at the helm to take the reins and steer the sleigh.

And as you know the rest will go down in history.

How are you dealing with disparities in the work place? What changes have you made to strengthen your team structure?


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Jason Christensen

Jason Christensen is Sr.National Accounts Manager for Milwaukee Tools
He partners with top accounts for exceptional progress
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Managing Mondays: No Help Allowed!

Imagine this: One of your employees comes to you with an urgent problem and you know exactly what to do. It would take you only moments to make everything right in his world again.

But should you necessarily step in and help?

Think about the results of stepping in to solve the issue (or becoming the momentary hero and saving the day.) By giving him the answer, are you really helping him?  Or perhaps are you inhibiting his learning process?

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When people are forced to work through details of the problem and potential solutions, they tend to develop their understanding of how to resolve future situations. Their learning capacity is greater when they use critical thinking skills to manage their way through a problem.

Always make new mistakes. – Esther Dyson

Let Them Make Mistakes

Let’s face it: No one likes to make mistakes. A mistake can be an embarrassing blow to an ego. But what would a person learn if they were always just handed the answer? Probably not a lot.

Mistakes allow a person to learn and grow.

Mistakes help people to move forward in life by embracing the mistake and learning a valuable lesson. Think back to one of your mistakes in life. If someone had just handed you the answer, would you have learned as much from the situation?

“I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing…that I know nothing.” –Socrates

What We Can Learn from Socrates?

Socrates gained fame for frequently engaging others in conversations, attempting to define broad ideas. During his conversations,Socrates placed himself in the position of student, which forced his respondents to act in the role of teacher. By taking the subordinate role, you can guide others toward a better understanding of the topic at hand.

Invite or allow them to teach you about the situation they are having difficulty with. By teaching you, they will increase their understanding and come closer to a resolution.


No need for the handcuffs or interrogation room, but much can be learned through a line of pointed questions. Start from the beginning and walk them through the problem they are struggling with, step-by-step. Only ask questions and don’t contribute to the resolution.

As the person answers each question, they will revisit the steps which brought them to the situation they currently face. As you facilitate this process, continue to ask questions which
will lead them to the
ah-ha moment.

In the end they will have resolved the situation on their own by working through each step.

So What? And then what?

If you could only ask the person these questions, could you help them resolve their problem? The answer might surprise you.

The point of this line of questioning is to get to the source of the issue by digging deeper, thereby leading to the solution. In the end, as you continue to ask, “So what?” or “And then what?”, they will have determined the source of the problem they are facing. And they will gain insight into how they can benefit from it or make a change for the better.

Some of my career’s most valuable lessons have been learned by working through things on my own, and being allowed to make mistakes. Inspire your team to work through situations, permitting them to succeed on their own. Once they have worked through the situation, invite them to lead others through similar situations in this way.

Bonus Result

In the end, this will also train them to lead others and themselves through a positive learning process.

What other ways can you inspire your team to learn? What have been your positive experiences with asking questions and not being “helpful?” Have you experienced an “ah-ha moment” because someone allowed you to discover your own solution?

Bookmark Managing Mondays: No Help Allowed!

Jason Christensen
is National Accounts Manager at Milwaukee Electric Tool
He is an expert in managing virtual teams and loves steamed broccoli

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Edited by Mike Weppler

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Managing Mondays: What Do You Want From Me?

Living up to other peoples’ expectations can be difficult and hard to figure out! And this is even more pronounced if you are an employee who works remotely from the office. So how do you get through the difficult challenges of meeting or exceeding expectations of others?

How do you determine if you are doing everything anticipated of you and delivering what is expected of you?

Ask Questions

If you want to deliver on expectations, you need to know what those expectations are. In order to do this, one must be up front with the people they work with and revisit expectations regularly to decide if you are on track. One has to discover not only what their manager expects of them, but what is expected from them by others.

Set Milestones

Setting milestones will keep you on track to achieve your goals. As you progress through your scheduled milestones, be sure to communicate them. This is key to allows others to get the sense of what you are actually accomplishing even though they cannot see you working first hand.

Clear Communications

No one can see and appreciate the massive effort you are putting in, so be sure to readily communicate what you produce in terms of actual results. Share your output with the team. Remember ,when you work remotely, no one is there to see your accomplishments first hand; the only way they will ever find out is if you are delivering on your expectations and sharing your progress. They only know what you tell them. So clear communication requires that you show them in a humble way so as not to be boastful.

Remember, you are simply communicating your progress.

Demonstrate Commitment

As with any great team, loyalty and commitment  are critical. Be sure to demonstrate the attributes of a good team member:

  • On virtual team, everyone works together and depends on one another, so be sure to give your team members what they need in a timely fashion.
  • If there is an announcement or break-through from which everyone could benefit, be sure the group is notified.
  • Share success stories with your team; if something worked well for you and improved a process, it is likely something similar will work for others on your team. And before you know it, your point of interest has become a best practice for the entire group.
  • For the most part, people enjoy helping others to succeed, it makes them feel good inside . So if someone helped you carry out a task you could have not otherwise done yourself or was just assisting you in meeting a timeline; tell the group. People appreciate the recognition and are grateful you recognize their efforts.

Sure it takes a little extra effort to keep everyone in the loop and to make sure you are living up to expectations, but in the end you will have achieved greater success through clarity and communications.

What are some best practices you have in place on your virtual team? How have you gone above expectations and communicated your best practices to your team? How have you encouraged others to think about clear communications and how it benefits everyone? What can you do in your next team meeting to stimulate conversation toward these goals? I would love to hear your thoughts!

Bookmark Managing Mondays: What Do You Want From Me?

Jason Christensen
is National Accounts Manager at Milwaukee Electric Tool
He is an expert in managing virtual teams and loves steamed broccoli

Email | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Blog


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Managing Mondays: 10 Steps to Long Term Conflict Management

You are infuriated! The situation is out of control and you just don’t have time to deal with it right now.

So what do you do?

Make a plan!

1. Schedule a time to discuss the situation allowing time for the problems to cool off; many things do not get completely settled in the heat of the moment. Choose a neutral location where you both can keep your bearings.

2. Identify the problem. Be calm and civilized with each other. What triggered the issue? Why does it bother you?

3. How did you each contribute to the problem? What did the other person say? What is your version of the story? Try to listen more than you talk.

4. Take ownership of your portion of the conflict. What did you do to cause this? Admit guilt if it is your fault.

5. Collaborate on possible solutions. What is the desired outcome of each person?

6. Discuss possible solutions and how each would fit into the equation.

7. Determine which solution best fits the situation and take action. Choose one resolution come to an agreement on how each individual will contribute toward this solution.

9. Follow up with another meeting to discuss your movement.

10. As each of you comes to a resolution, forgiving and forgetting; take the time for a handshake or a hug allowing growth and camaraderie through conflict resolution.

Do you have any other thoughts?
Are there some problems that just cannot be solved?

Bookmark Managing Mondays: 10 Steps to Long Term Conflict Management

Jason Christensen is back in Chicago now working at Milwaukee Tools!
He can be reached at


Managing Mondays: That’s Impossible!

How do you get what you want and still make everyone happy?

I have always been the kind of person to find a way to get things done. Perhaps it’s shear determination, or it’s a passion to locate a method of accomplishing the goals I wish to achieve. Maybe it started in childhood when my mother said, “no” to a request of mine, so I went to my father asking the same question. I can’t tell you how many times I heard the line, “What did your mother say?”

Lesson learned; if it doesn’t work the first time, then take a different approach.


“Start out with an ideal and end up with a deal.” ~ Karl Albrecht

  • First you have to know exactly what you want, define it, and determine acceptable variations. This will keep you focused and on track.
  • Prepare carefully and research all aspects of the deal. This will ensure you are fully prepared for any counters you may incur.
  • Negotiation is nothing personal, so don’t make it a personal attack on the other party. And don’t take the other party’s actions as a personal attack upon you.
  • Look at the situation from the perspective of the other party and show compassion toward their situation. Be wise; empathize!


“If you can’t go around it, over it, or through it, you had better negotiate with it.” ~ Ashleigh Brilliant

  • Listen to the needs of the other party.
  • Be persistent.
  • Don’t expect to “win” the first time. Your first job is just to start the other person thinking.
  • Work through the terms, discussing multiple resolutions.

How can you accomplish your objectives without compromising your values?

  • Give a little to allow the other party to feel as if they gained some ground.
  • Admit, when appropriate, the validity of the other party’s arguments.
  • Avoid ultimatums and other forms of non-negotiable demands.
  • You must be fully prepared to lose a great deal in order to make a great deal.


“The first principle of contract negotiation is don’t remind them of what you did in the past; tell them what you’re going to do in the future.” ~ Stan Musial

  • Work together with the other party for a common resolution.
  • Don’t be selfish; try to base a solution incorporating the needs of the other party.
  • Negotiation is always best if both parties are happy and you can develop a win-win outcome.
  • Put your bargain in terms of his or her needs, advantages, and benefits.
  • Define and set a timeline for the transaction to take place.

Negotiation can bring with it a negative association, so be sure to take the time to fully understand the situation, be a good listener, work to develop win-win resolution and never compromise your values. Using this advice to achieve your goals will give you a new confidence in life to go out and take the world by storm.

What have you found to be a good tip in getting what you want? How has negotiation worked out well for you? And have you ever been burned because of poor negotiation on your part or because of  unethical behaviors of others? Or, have you ever had to compromise your values to get what yo wanted? Was it worth it? I’d love to hear your stories and ideas!

Bookmark Managing Mondays: That's Impossible!

Jason Christensen is back in Chicago now working at Milwaukee Tools!
He can be reached at

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