HR Executive of the Year: Ebenezer Scrooge?

One of my favorite Christmas stories is Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. I’ve watched just about every version of the movie, and last year decided to read the book in its original form (although I downloaded it onto my phone via Kindle..hey, I’m a modern guy after all). The story has an incredibly powerful message for the modern leader, but it’s not the one you’re expecting.


We all know the familiar story line. Scrooge is a miserable, and wildly successful, businessman in 1840s England. He is so driven to achieve results that he has made compromises throughout his life in order to reach his goals. His choice of money over love, his decision to partner with Jacob Marley (another successful businessman who shared Scrooge’s drive to succeed), the horrible way he treated his employees, and the eventual ghostly visits that shocked him back to reality all make up this wonderful story.

Other than Paul on the road to Damascus, I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a story of another leader who changed so quickly.


Scrooge is someone, minus the personality flaws, that most would look up to. He was sent off as a young boy to live at a boarding school, felt abandoned by his family, and at least had a shot at marrying the love of his life. Knowing the world was a harsh place, he committed himself to being a success. In fact, one might say he pulled himself up by his boot straps.

“It appears that young Ebenezer was a career-minded self-starter who consistently achieved his goals.”

Do those descriptors sound like anyone you know? Perhaps someone who looks back at you from the mirror?


The true takeaway from Scrooge’s plight doesn’t come from the ghosts, or the images that softened his heart, or the joyful realization that all was not lost.

No, the lesson learned comes when we move away from this story and walk into the office tomorrow. Change is difficult for us all, even if we claim to embrace change; or (gag me) use the phrase “the only thing that is constant around here is change.”


How will you begin to act differently? Do you even need to change? Maybe, maybe not. But either way, don’t expect an epiphany that transforms you from the leader you are today, into the one you want to be in the future. The only way to get there is personal accountability. Not even a ghost can do that for you.

I’d love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pics courtesy of orlandosentinel


This post was written by Jay Kuhns, SPHR.

Jay is Vice President of Human Resources for All Children’s Hospital and Health System, a member of the Johns Hopkins Healthcare System.  Founded in 1926, All Children’s has grown into a leading pediatric referral center that is dedicated to advancing treatment, education, research and advocacy in child health.

Jay gets fired up about lots of things including his NoExcusesHR blog, making HR matter, drinking far too much coffee and watching hockey. Lots and lots of hockey. Connect with him on twitter @jrkuhns or LinkedIn!






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