Leadership Lessons from Scrooge
Ebenezer Scrooge is the miserly owner of an accounting firm in Charles Dickens’ classic tale, A Christmas Carol. You may remember that he was a cold-hearted micro-manager who forced his devoted clerk, Bob Cratchit, to work grueling hours for low pay. He starts out hating Christmas but is scared straight by the Ghost of Christmas Future. He then transforms himself into a person with empathy and gratefulness.
While this may be the season of cheer and goodwill, we all can grumble and complain, becoming cold and cynical about what we see around us. Peace on earth, goodwill to men. Really? Bah, humbug! Our lives are so full and empty of time. Promises. Obligations. Expectations. If you aren’t paying attention you might be a Scrooge and find out the hard way. The story of Scrooge is an entertaining and educational tale. Here are some positive leadership lessons we can all learn from Ebenezer.
To stay in business, you need to make money. It’s important to question whether or not it’s worth doing something if it doesn’t contribute to how you earn your revenue. While I’m not advocating for how he earned his money or his attitude toward it, Scrooge was disciplined. He had the dedication to work through obstacles. Nothing stood in his way to succeed. He was a resilient self-starter who achieved his goals. Be sure that your bottom line is healthy before expanding, hiring another employee, or investing in expensive new equipment.
Treat others as you wish to be treated. The ‘Golden Rule’ applies to your employees and your patients. Although Scrooge ultimately gives his employee the day off to spend Christmas with family, his perfectionistic expectations can never be met. No matter how loyal and dedicated Bob Cratchit is, he can never please Ebenezer. Although it’s important to be productive and results-driven, remember that your employees and your patients can go elsewhere. Unfortunately many dental leaders still believe that a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work is sufficient. While this approach makes for an adequate practice, it is unlikely to inspire your employees to give more than minimal service. In leadership the bottom line is not money, it’s people.
Provide outstanding service. Is your practice successful because you pinch every penny like Scrooge, or because you delight patients and keep them coming back? Cutting your fees while offering no-frills care only fills the schedule until another office offers a better deal. Partner with your patients and let them know you are committed to their long-term health. Convey how much you value them and appreciate their trust in you. Ask about their wishes and concerns, and collaborate on future treatment options. Build a partnership with patients and they will reward you with their loyalty.
Be open-minded. Despite all of Ebenezer’s dastardly deeds, he ultimately takes accountability to become a better person. Scrooge found enlightenment and re-engaged with the world in an authentic and compelling way. Leadership at its best is motivated by causes greater than oneself. A wake-up call or good cause can be the catalyst for changing a business strategy or management style. As Scrooge has shown us, it's never too late to change. There comes a time in the life of every leader to reflect on who you are, where you are, and to reconnect with your purpose. Your epiphany may prompt you to make some major changes in your life, or it may reaffirm the course you are already on. But regardless, pay attention and heed the warnings.
The ultimate lesson we can all learn from Ebenezer is to open our hearts. Take time to be in your spiritual home, whether it’s Church, Synagogue, Mosque, Temple, in nature, meditation, organized or not. Here’s wishing you all a Happy Hanukkah (yes, I know it’s over), Merry Christmas, Joyful Kwanzaa, and many blessings in the coming New Year!
Dr. Haller provides training for leadership effectiveness, interpersonal communication, conflict management, and team building. If you would like to learn more contact her at email@example.com
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