When I was one-and-twenty I heard a wise man say, Give crowns and pounds and guineas, But not your heart away. Keep your fancy free… But, I was one-and-twenty, No use to talk to me.” When I Was One-and-Twenty, poem by A. E. Housman
Have you ever met someone who’s commonly called a “Scrooge” – a Dickens name reserved for those, especially at Christmas, who are mainly concerned about themselves? It’s not that they’re always “bad”; but, some feel they’re vulnerable if they don’t (in Leonard Cohen’s words) “Shoot at someone who outdrew you.” As, Donald Trump trumpeted, “Real power… is fear.”
Even positive thinking guru, Dale Carnegie, acknowledged that “The world is full of people who are grabbing and self-seeking.” But added. “So the rare individual who unselfishly tries to serve others has an enormous advantage. He has little competition.”
So, what we’re really talking about is personal leadership. And, basically, there are two versions: power and control; and, service and support.
Power and Control: I’ve been exposed – however rarely – to this mode of leadership, and it’s no fun. Working in the face of fear and intimidation seldom is. In fact, Dickens, in his novel ‘A Christmas Carol’, has his wealthy protagonist, Scrooge, characterized to be devoid of any caring about his long-serving clerk, Bob Cratchit… even less about Bob’s destitute family.
And, why should he? There’s no law compelling him to be his clerk’s personal benefactor… until enlightened by his heart and soul. Scrooge feels that even allowing for unpaid time off at Christmas is simply an excuse for employees to put their hands into the pockets of their employers… “as it were, sir!”
“Boy, you’re going to carry that weight… a long time.” – Carry That Weight by the Beatles
Service and Support: Those who follow this way of being will often find staff don’t normally expect to be treated as adults… to being trusted to do the right thing. But, these employers have already made a life decision to be understanding, just and fair. They also tend to get more than just passable job performance from staff. And, this mutual respect extends from top to bottom. Employees reward management with loyalty – decision-making that’s self-sustaining on many levels.
“And, in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.” – The Beatles https://youtu.be/12R4FzIhdoQ
Of course, there’s always a few who will try to take advantage of others. And, it’s disappointing. But, what I’ve found, from conducting hundreds of management and employee interviews… you reap what you sow.
” ‘Tis paid with sighs a plenty. And sold for endless rue. And I am two-and-twenty, And oh, ’tis true, ’tis true.” A. E. Housman
Standing by your principles – even if it doesn’t work out – can still give your struggles meaning.
“Like the fool I am, and I’ll always be, I’ve got a dream. They can change their minds, but they can’t change me. I got a dream.” – I’ve Got A Name by Jim Croce
Merry Christmas! Celebrate Life!”