Four Leadership Lessons From Clark Griswold

As another year draws to a close, it’s time to reflect on what we’ve learned and what we hope to accomplish in the new year. I suggest we draw inspiration from a man whose leadership skills often go unrecognized – the king of Christmas himself, Clark Griswold. Many of you know Clark as the hapless dad who watches his perfectly planned Christmas go up in flames…literally. If we watch the movie a little closer, however, I think Clark displays Alignment Leadership® characteristics we can all learn from. After all, you don’t receive a Jelly of the Month Club subscription for nothing. 

Think Big

Who do you think of when you think of a leader who has attempted to achieve the impossible? JFK sending astronauts to the moon? Bill Gates and his plan to put a computer in every home? What about Clark Griswold, who was confident that he could successfully get a 25-foot-tall spruce home and fit it in his living room. When we set our goals for 2024, let’s channel our inner Clark. Dream big, ignore the Todds and Margos of the world who doubt us, and let’s see what we can accomplish in the coming year. 

Be a Creative Problem Solver

Clark may be the ultimate creative problem solver. Whether it came to staying warm in the attic, fixing the newel post (with a chainsaw) or disposing of a pesky squirrel, he wasn’t afraid to think outside the box and take action. When you’re faced with a tough to solve issue this coming year, ask yourself, “How would Clark handle this?” The answer is with a can-do attitude and healthy dose of positivity. Just please, leave the chainsaw at home. 

Take Responsibility for Your Mistakes

Clark wasn’t perfect, but none of us are. In the climactic scene of “Christmas Vacation,” he admits that he lost his temper when he got his disappointing bonus and spurred Cousin Eddie to kidnap his boss in retaliation. It’s Clark’s honesty, humility, and willingness to take the blame not just for Eddie, but for all the disgruntled employees at the company, that ultimately leads his boss to realize that he was in the wrong. The result? His bonus from last year, plus 20 percent.  


Every leader faces challenges along the way. I’m sure each of us has stood in Clark’s shoes as he plugged in the Christmas lights after the big family drumroll, only to have – absolutely nothing. Lesser men would have thrown in the towel, but Clark stayed out there in the cold, checked each of the 25,000 imported Italian lights, and had his hallelujah moment thanks to a little help from his “team.” As you encounter setbacks in 2024, channel your inner Griswold and eventually, the path will be illuminated. 

I’d like to end by wishing you all the “hap hap happiest” this holiday season. Thank you for your friendship and support, and I look forward to working with you in 2024. To close with some wise words from the big man himself, “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

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