Last Christmas, I thwarted my nephew’s plans to only use gift bags and instead I wrapped all of his presents as he watched in amazement at how I effortlessly measured the paper and crinkled the ribbon. We disguised some of the obvious gifts but there was really nothing special about my tasks even though he was as impressed as if I had done sleight of hand magic.

This year, I have noticed how – even though it is so close to Christmas – the stores are still stocked full of wrapping paper rolls. I fear that wrapping of gifts is becoming a lost art, just as the sending of handwritten cards has given way to photo cards or no cards at all and the choosing of personal presents is increasingly being replaced with the exchange of gift cards.

Gift bags can be beautiful but pulling something out of a bag is not nearly the experience of unwrapping a present whereas wrapped gifts can become works of art in and of themselves (as this picture attests). A circle of gift bags under the tree does not have the same nostalgia or cache as a stack of presents all festively decorated and lovingly wrapped.

Use the packaging of gifts as an analogy for the service your organization provides. Are you offering the basics (aka a gift bag), are you taking an extra step to wrap the present tied with a bow or are you going above and beyond to wow your customers with your presentation? As others gravitate toward quick and easy, a little extra attention on your part can unwrap unseen opportunities for your organization’s image.

I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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