Leadership Lessons of Ebenezer Scrooge
“‘I wear the chain I forged in life,’ replied the Ghost. ‘I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it.’” – Jacob Marley form “A Christmas Carol”
One of my favorite Christmas movies is the original ‘A Christmas Carol’ by Charles Dickens.The tale begins on a Christmas Eve in 1843 exactly seven years after the death of Ebenezer Scrooge’s business partner, Jacob Marley. Scrooge is established as a greedy and stingy businessman who has no place in his life for kindness, compassion, charity or benevolence, rudely turning away two gentlemen who seek a donation from him. The story appeals to me because of the change that occurs in Scrooge over his lifetime.
The story of Scrooge provides powerful and timeless leadership development lessons. The young Ebenezer Scrooge was an apprentice and his master was Mr. Fezziwig, the proprietor of a warehouse business. Mr. Fezziwig was a cheerful man who mentors Scrooge with kindness and generosity, and shows great affection towards his all employees. Scrooge, begins his career as a passionate, driven young idealist, only to become a bitter, lonely old man. He becomes a business and financial success but a failure as a person and a failure in his relationships. You might say that Scrooge developed a rather large work-life balance problem. Too bad there were no leadership development “coach’s” in his time.
Scrooge’s story is one of revelation, reflection, and renewal.The key to the story is Jacob Marley’s visit and the quote above that starts this blog. Jacob Marley, is miserably fettered in long chains and condemned to walk the Earth seeking to do the good he failed to pursue during his life. Marley forged is “future” by every decision, one by one, he made in the past. Or as Marley said “link by link” of his own free will.
Ebenezer’s “character” was developed by his reactions to the events along the timeline of his life. As Ebenezer moved along in life his decisions were not aligned with his mentors, Mr. Fezziwig, teachings. Scrooges values, moral code, changed. And like his partner, Jacob Marley, he forged a chain that he chose by his own free will. Scrooges chain was forged one decision at a time.
As a 21st century leaders you need to look at your past decisions to understand what has created your present attitudes and behavior. Are you on the right track to your preferred future? Or are you continuing to lead in the same old way while expecting different results from your organization?
Mr. Fezziwig created an exceptional workplace.
There are three key traits that all exceptional workplaces share:
1.Trust is the primary reason for employees greater cooperation and strong commitment to a company. In A Christmas Carol, Mr. Fezziwig trusted his employees to work diligently and rewarded them with time off for the holiday.
2.Pride that employees have toward their employers. If you treat employees with dignity and respect, employees will work harder. In A Christmas Carol, Scrooge feels the pain of his behavior through his employee’s lack of pride.
3.The value placed on the internal customer. Honoring and respecting employees through open, transparent, and two-way communication goes a long way. As he watches Fezziwig interact with people, the light dawns on Scrooge.
While Scrooge is understandably reluctant to change, ultimately the spirits help him to remember his life as it was, see his life as it is now, and preview the bleak future that awaits him if his existing path remains as it is. By changing his current thinking and behavior, he changes his future – and enriches the lives of others. Awakening Christmas morning, his power to change still intact, Scrooge is a man transformed. He alters the course of his life – and the future to which it leads.
“Our opportunities to give of ourselves are indeed limitless, but they are also perishable. There are hearts to gladden. There are kind words to say. There are gifts to be given. There are deeds to be done. There are souls to be saved.” Thomas S. Monson
Would the young person you once were be proud of what you have become today?