‘Tis the season of gift-giving. Lately, I’ve been reflecting on Values Based Leadership (VBL), and how it’s such an exceptional gift.

It doesn’t matter what walk of life you come from, nor does it matter your level of education or profession. When it comes to VBL, it’s universally consumable and appreciated.

I am so grateful that at age 43 I was exposed to VBL and the power of self-development. No matter how old you are, the opportunity to learn, grow and become a better, braver, and wiser leader is a tremendous gift. And it’s a gift you’ll have for life.

VBL makes a real difference in our daily lives and interactions with people. And the holidays are the perfect occasion to use and share this gift.

It’s a wonderful time of year, but it can also be a very demanding time. The volume of activity that is laid atop our normal lives can be overwhelming. The reality is that we’re at the most risk of showing up poorly when we’re under stress with a thousand items on our to-do lists.

But for Values Based Leaders there are many opportunities to be a guiding light, to demonstrate core values and inspire others during the holidays. To be a great leader this holiday season, whether at work or at home, focus on the following:

1) Acknowledge the demands and stress the holidays can create. That simple acknowledgement can lead you to make some better, more conscious choices. I know if I’m going to be under stress I must take care of the machine that is my body and soul – whether that’s eating, sleeping, praying, or exercise. How will you care for the machine?

2) Meet people where they are. This is critical. Remember that it might not be where you want them to be. Have grace. Using your VBL tools is at a premium because many people haven’t yet been given the tools needed to effectively develop personally and professionally.

3) Be the example. Modeling is one of the most powerful tools we have in our leadership toolbox. If you get hi-jacked or have your buttons pushed, think about what you really value and what you want others to see. It will give you something quickly to reground yourself to, and others will take note.

4) We are human beings, not perfect beings. Human beings are complex, challenging, and incredibly inspirational. Look for inspiration – not perfection – during the holidays.

5) Diagnose and adapt. Being extra adaptable is key for the holidays. Recognize that the holidays can be stressful for everyone, so take a flexible approach and give people some wiggle room.

6) Give people a break. The holidays are not the time when people should receive the next standard of performance or execution. Instead of giving them that extra push or asking them to make that extra effort, give them the space to refill their battery and recuperate. Don’t forget that doing exceptional work takes energy.

7) Celebrate and show heartfelt appreciation. Give thanks and gifts of recognition. Gather up the positives and offer public praise for the great achievements accomplished throughout the year.

By demonstrating any of these acts of Values Based Leadership you’ll be giving true gifts to those receiving them. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!