Have a heart that never hardens, and a temper that never tires, and a touch that never hurts.
- Charles Dickens
You know it as one of the most beloved Christmas classics of all time. Charles Dickens’, A Christmas Carol, first published in 1843, is the tale of Ebenezer Scrooge. As you know, the tale begins on Christmas Eve seven years after the death of Scrooge’s business partner Jacob Marley.
Scrooge is visited by The Ghost of Christmas Past who implores Scrooge to change his stingy ways. Scrooge is reminded of his innocent youthful days in an attempt to appeal to a more tender time in his life. The second spirit, The Ghost of Christmas Present, takes Scrooge, among other places, to the home of his impoverished clerk Bob Cratchit. Scrooge is faced with the responsibility of caring for his fellow man.
Finally, Scrooge is visited by The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. In this dream, Scrooge is faced with the dire consequences of his failure to act on what he has witnessed. He is shown his untended grave and in the end changes his ways. He spends Christmas day with his nephew’s family and sends the prize wining turkey to the Cratchit home for dinner.
While the story concludes with Scrooge changing his ways it serves as a reminder that exceptional leadership is called upon in uncommon times. The fictional account of Scrooge serves to remind us of what is truly important during this season of the year.
The opening words of Dickens serve as an exemplary leadership model. This model will endear you to your team and will build the character of your organization from the inside out. Consider the qualities of The Leader of Christmas Yet to Come.
A leader with a heart never hardens. One of the greatest compliments for a leader today is that he or she has not grown calloused by the corporate grind. While leadership certainly has its benefits, it can be challenging. Keeping people at a distance might make a leader feel secure but it can create an unhealthy bubble that hardens the heart of leaders to those who otherwise desire to help.
Henry Ward Beecher said, “No man can tell whether he is rich or poor by turning his ledger. It is the heart that makes a man rich. He is rich according to what he is, not according to what he has.” When the Leader of Christmas Present has a heart that is not hardened he has the makings of a business with a future and a force for good.
A leader with a temper that never tires. The temperament of the leader in the organization determines the direction of the organization more than anything else. Lord Chesterfield said, “A man who cannot command his temper should not think of being a man of business.” The responsibility of the leader is to set a tone that signals civility as well as success. All leaders are challenged and tried, and at times fall short. But in order to successfully move the organization forward, an even-tempered leader must be at the helm.
Wes Craven said, “A lot of life is dealing with your curse, dealing with the cards you were given that aren’t so nice. Does that make you into a monster, or can you temper it in some way, or accept it and go in some other direction?” And this is the challenge of leadership – to endure some unpleasant realities, make difficult decisions, and put up with some cranky people along the way. The Leader of Christmas Present is the steady hand at the helm guiding the ship to success.
The leader with the touch that never hurts. This by far is the legacy of leadership. Your touch as a leader is far reaching beyond the decisions of today. Will yours be the touch that lifts up or tears down? Will it be with words that help or cause harm? It was Dickens who also said, “No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of it to anyone else.”
The touch that never hurts is the signature of your leadership. Your business environment benefits when your leadership is a source of healing and not one of destruction. The Leader of Christmas Present is a catalyst for creating an organization that is quick to care, patient in adversity, and leads with a touch that never hurts.
© 2010 Doug Dickerson