‘Tis the Season for Leadership Lessons from Classic Holiday Movies

‘Tis the season to be merry—and even more, to enjoy merriment through one of our favorite pastimes: watching holiday movies. From cult classics like A Christmas Story to heart-string-pulling prose like It’s A Wonderful Life to laughter-inducing irreverence like Christmas Vacation, enjoying holiday movies with kith and kin can not only be a wholesome experience but can also be a great excuse to learn some leadership lessons from your favorite holiday movie characters. Check out these quick tips you can get from Yuletide streaming! 

Miracle on 34th Street 

“I’m not just a whimsical figure who wears a charming suit and affects a jolly demeanor. You know, I’m a symbol.” – Kris Kringle 

Kris told people what everyone already knew—his purpose went above and beyond a simple caricature. His signature features and outfit reminded people to believe, be nicer to the common person, and be joyful in all situations. As a leader, your team looks to you to be a symbol, to represent the values and mission your organization has adopted. This season, embrace your role and encourage others to live out the company culture and values you represent. 


“The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.” – Buddy the Elf 

As a leader, a powerful responsibility lies on your shoulders: boosting and maintaining employee morale. Buddy knew that by simply singing, he could raise everyone’s spirits. Similarly, you can raise morale by sharing a little holiday cheer. 

Home Alone 

“I’m eating junk and watching rubbish—you’d better come out and stop me!” – Kevin McAlester 

Sure, Kevin may have been living his best life by being left home alone accidentally, but he knew that he was crossing the Rubicon of what was good for him. Sometimes we get out in front of our skis and need help. Whether it’s self-sabotage or fear of failure, it’s good to recognize the issue and ask a friend or mentor to come out and stop ya! 


“It’s Christmas Eve. It’s the one night of the year when we all act a little nicer, we smile a little easier, we cheer a little more. For a couple of hours out of the whole year we are the people that we always hoped we would be.” – Frank Cross 

In this classic reincarnation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Bill Murray’s character is a modern-day Scrooge. But after being visited by three ghosts, Frank sees the error of his ways and gives this soliloquy to his employees. As Frank explains, this holiday reminds us of who we hope to be. It’s a great motivation to live our lives with kindness, joy, and cheer for not just a couple hours, but to live out these characteristics for the other 364 days a year. 

It’s A Wonderful Life 

“Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around, he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?” – Clarence 

George Bailey didn’t fully understand all the people he’s affected in his life and took many of the blessings he had for granted. But as the angel Clarence exclaims, each person touches many throughout a community, and without that one person creating a ripple effect, others’ lives are exponentially changed. Understand that we may never know how much a smile can change someone’s day or how a note to an employee can help them be more present and appreciative toward others. Embrace the little things that in turn make the biggest differences. And as Clarence says, “Remember, no man is a failure who has friends.” 

What are your favorite holiday movie lessons? Did we miss any of your favorite films? Let us know in the comments section below! 

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