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Management Lessons from a Bedtime Story- The Elves and the Shoemaker

Source | Linkedin | Ruchira Garg | Director, Head- HR Shared Services| HR Business Partner| Employee Relations| HR transformation|Operational Excellence

A few days back, while looking for a term on Google, the link to a specific search result caught my attention. It was the German fairy tale of the Elves and The Shoemaker. I was tempted to read this bed time story again and while as a kid I had lessons to learn from it many years ago, I could still draw quite a few analogies from the workplace as well. 

For a quick refresh of the story, it’s about a poor shoemaker who ends up in a dire state of being left with just enough money to buy leather for one pair of shoes. He lays the leather on the table, leaves it to God to help him out and goes off to sleep with plans to make the shoes the next day. When he wakes up the next morning, he finds a fine pair of shoes already made. Soon he gets a customer whose feet fit the shoes perfectly and the customer is happy to pay more than their price. The shoe maker then buys leather for 2 pairs of shoes with that money and goes of to sleep. The next morning, he sees two fine pair of shoes created. This keeps happening every night and the shoe maker’s wealth grows. One night he wants to see who makes these shoes for him, so he and his wife hide behind the curtains. They see two naked elves come in and diligently make the pairs of shoes with the leather kept there. The wife feels sorry for the elves and makes them clothes, shoes and hats which they keep on the table the next day. At night the elves come in and are delighted to see the clothes and accessories. They wear, them, dance around and say:

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