What Fezziwig Can Teach Us About Leadership🎅
According to Gallup, 7 out of 10 employees are disengaged at work. This high percentage has sustained for many years. It is not just a career crisis, it is a leadership crisis. In a business world that is accelerating in change, we need learn the lessons of Fezziwig leadership.
In the 1951 screenplay for the movie Scrooge by Noel Langley, Fezziwig is advised to bend with the times and sell out, but Fezziwig resists this call to progress:
Jorkin: “Mr. Fezziwig, we’re good friends besides good men of business. We’re men of vision and progress. Why don’t you sell out while the going’s good? You’ll never get a better offer. It’s the age of the machine, and the factory, and the vested interests. We small traders are ancient history, Mr. Fezziwig.”
It’s not just for money alone that one spends a lifetime building up a business…. It’s to preserve a way of life that one knew and loved. No, I can’t see my way to selling out to the new vested interests, Mr. Jorkin. I’ll have to be loyal to the old ways and die out with them if needs must. -Fezziwig
At the end of this interaction, Jorkin hires Scrooge away and buys Fezziwig’s business. The business transforms from a private to a public/shareholder model of ownership. As business agents responsible for shareholder’s interests, Jorkin, Scrooge, and Marley are committed to the objectives of profitability. This makes it very difficult for these “good men of business” to be a “Fezziwig” even if they had the mindset to do so.
The successor to Fezziwig, Jorkin showcases the weakness of self-interest when he communicates to the Board of Directors that the company is bankrupt after years of embezzling. Scrooge and Marley leverage their financial business acumen and self-interest by using the bankruptcy to gain control of the enterprise. This Langley interpretation of A Christmas Carol replaces Fezziwigs with predators who are adversarial to the interests of employees and shareholders.
Fezziwig expressed three virtues that we need in leading our organizations more than ever:
In the 21st Century, we are swiftly moving from a connected to interconnected to a morally interdependent world. The businesses that thrive in this increasingly transparent world, where are business relationships are personal will be the “Fezziwig” Leaders that integrate relationships with performance. Fezziwig was a shining example that how we connect, collaborate, engender trust, deepen loyalties, keep promises, and earn relationship capital is now the source of distinction and long-term competitive advantage. Not maximizing profits, but optimizing relationships and results that attract and retain great clients, employees, and partners.