We all grew up reading fairy tales, hearing bedtime stories and even watching movies from the Grimm Brothers. We learned about cautionary tales, great adventures, true love, friendship…and even some business lessons. Think back to stories like “The Shoemaker and the Elves,” “Rapunzel” and even “Cinderella.” There were clear examples of poor leadership, lack of succession planning, terrible staffing and much more! Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look at a few examples.

A Lack of Focus on the Job Can Have Serious Consequences – Little Red Riding Hood

Everyone knows the story of Little Red Riding Hood, the young girl who is tasked with delivering a basket of goods to her grandmother’s house. On her way, she is distracted by a wolf who engages her in conversation. Before she knows it, the wolf convinces her to deviate from her original plan, nearly resulting in the death of both her and her grandmother. While disaster was averted by the presence of a brave woodsman, Red Riding Hood never accomplished her intended goal, and the outcome may have been different had she kept her eyes on the prize.

Moral: Always keep your focus on the task at hand. Don’t allow distractions to sway you from your ultimate goal.

Be Cautious of Whom You Do Business With – Rumpelstiltskin

In order to save her life, a miller’s daughter is forced to enter into a verbal contract with an impish man who agrees to help her fulfill a contract she made with the king. She agrees to give the man her first-born child if he is able to weave straw into gold. She later reneges on her part of the agreement and in the end, Rumpelstiltskin dies. In this particular story, both the miller’s daughter and Rumpelstiltskin are to blame. Neither party conducted a background screening on the other. Had they each gained insight into the other’s previous business dealings, it may have saved them from making further harmful decisions.

Moral: Consider a background check before entering into a business transaction with anyone. It could just save you from making bad business deals that you’ll later regret.

Consider Your Employees’ Happiness and Needs – The Shoemaker and the Elves

A small business owner is struggling with sales and decides to close his shop when a team of elves comes to the rescue. The elves sneak in to the shop and complete the unfinished work left by the owner. The grateful shopkeeper thanks his little helpers by providing them with new clothes, shoes and hats. The shoemaker’s business begins to thrive in the following days, even once the elves depart. Creating a positive work environment is important not only for employee morale, but also your business. Happy employees tend to focus on their work rather than finding new work.

Moral: Treat your employees well and they will work hard to help make your business a success.

A Person’s Age Does Not Determine Their Abilities – Hansel and Gretel

Poor Hansel and Gretel overhear their father and stepmother conspiring to abandon them in the woods. While the parents assume the children won’t remember their way home, Hansel shows resourcefulness by leaving a trail of breadcrumbs showing the way, but his plan is foiled by hungry birds. While lost in the woods, Hansel and Gretel are kidnapped by a cannibalistic witch who imprisons them. Once again, Hansel and Gretel use their problem-solving skills to trick the witch into climbing into the oven where they trap her, thus saving their own lives, as well as those of future children. Had the witch given the children more credit, she may have survived and continued to lure children into her gingerbread house of horrors.

Moral: It’s not wise to underestimate a person based on their age. Remember, you can learn something from everyone around you.

Overly Demanding Bosses Can Drive Your Best Talent Away – Cinderella

Sweeping, mopping, dusting, cleaning, cooking, serving, sewing and tending to the farm animals – these are just a few of the duties that are assigned to Cinderella by her horrendous stepmother. Additionally, her two evil stepsisters berate Cinderella on a daily basis. It’s no wonder that she seeks happiness elsewhere. Her stepmother’s misguided micromanagement leaves Cinderella feeling the need to escape her stressful life, even if only for an evening. Had Cinderella’s stepmother treated her fairly and provided her with a friendly work environment and some decision-making freedom, she may not have felt the need to escape.

Moral: Trust your employees to do their job without hanging over their shoulder to ensure work gets done. By showing them respect and trust, they will be more likely to work not to lose it.

Fairy tales were a fun way of learning about life when we were kids; however, it doesn’t have to end there. They not only allow us to keep in touch with our inner child, but also to learn new lessons in our adult lives. 

Author: Kara Singh is the Social Media Manager for Insperity Recruiting Services. She has over nine years of experience in recruiting and seven years of experience in sourcing and social media. You can connect with her on Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+.

[Image Credit: Shutterstock]

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