Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Power Post - Mr. Fezziwig - A Modern Leader

One of my favorite holiday movies is Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol.  This year I decided to read the original unabridged version (on the Kindle app for my Droid.)  As I was working my way through the language of 1843 England, I came upon the section that describes Ebenezer Scrooge's first boss, Mr. Fezziwig.  It struck me that Fezziwig is the epitome of what the modern leader should be.  Listen as Scrooge describes Fezziwigg to the Ghost of Christmas Past:

"He has the power to render us happy or unhappy; to make our service light or burdensome; a pleasure or a toil.  Say that his power lies in words and looks: in things so slight and insignificant that it is impossible to add and count 'em up:  what then?  The happiness he gives, is quite as great as if it cost a fortune."

It seems to me not a whole lot has changed over the last 150 years.  Treat your people well.  Treat each other well.  It's just that simple.

What do you think?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of


  1. A great example and wonderful reminder...let us not become a "Scrooge".

  2. Thanks Terri. I honestly was surprised at Dickens description of an effective leader and how those qualities are still so true today.

  3. I agree, not much has changed. What' I'd challenge though is that this is the epitome of what a modern leader should be.

    I prefer a modern leader who does not wield power over me, but creates an environment (through the hires he or she makes in their inner circle) where I can have opportunities to succeed and to fail. That will lead to me creating my own happiness.

    I could just be an outlier in my opinion, but a great modern leader empowers. Thanks for making me think.

  4. Great perspective Trish. I, too, hope leaders create those positive environments; however, they do still hold so much power over their staff, I'd love for them to use it to empower v. intimidate. Many thanks for the comment!

  5. Trish has a great point, and it makes me realize that great leaders exercise power over the work environment, which is frequently more controllable than an employee is, so that the employee can be their most productive self. In other words, a great leader knows her people well, and makes sure the right balance of changing the environment and expecting performance is achieved for the best result. In many of the depictions of A Christmas Carol, Fezziwig is shown that way - creating the environment of celebration in the case of the Christmas party. (They didn't have to say "Holiday party" back then) :)

  6. Great point stressing our ability to influence the environment for the employees. At the end of the day, we need to set the tone both personally and environmentally for our teams.