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Dickens for Modern Managers

Lessons from “A Tale of Two Cities” for Management Today

By David WyldPublished 4 months ago 3 min read


"A Tale of Two Cities" by Charles Dickens is a classic novel that tells the story of the French Revolution. While it may seem like a story about a bygone era, there are actually many lessons that managers today can learn from the book.

This article will explore the key themes of "A Tale of Two Cities" and how they can be applied to modern management practices.

1. The Importance of Adaptability

One of the main themes of "A Tale of Two Cities" is the idea of adaptability. Throughout the novel, the characters are forced to adapt to changing circumstances in order to survive. For example, Charles Darnay has to adapt to life in England after leaving behind his aristocratic roots in France. Sydney Carton has to adapt to the fact that he will never be able to be with the woman he loves and instead finds purpose in sacrificing himself for her and her family.

In the same way, managers need to be adaptable in order to respond to changing circumstances in the workplace. This could involve adapting to changes in technology, changes in the market, or changes in the workforce. Managers who are able to adapt quickly and effectively will be better positioned to succeed in the long run.

2. The Value of Sacrifice

Another key theme of "A Tale of Two Cities" is the idea of sacrifice. The novel is full of characters who make sacrifices for the greater good. Sydney Carton, for example, sacrifices his own life in order to save the life of Charles Darnay and ensure that his family is safe.

In the workplace, managers can learn from this by recognizing the value of sacrifice. This could involve sacrificing short-term gains for long-term success or sacrificing personal ambitions for the good of the team or company. Managers who are able to lead by example and make sacrifices for the greater good will inspire loyalty and dedication from their employees.

3. The Importance of Communication

Communication is another important theme in "A Tale of Two Cities". Throughout the novel, characters struggle to communicate effectively with one another, often leading to misunderstandings and conflict. For example, Charles Darnay struggles to communicate the truth about his past to his wife and family, leading to tension and mistrust.

In the workplace, effective communication is essential for success. Managers need to be able to communicate clearly and effectively with their employees in order to ensure that everyone is on the same page. This could involve providing regular feedback and updates, listening to employee concerns, and fostering open lines of communication throughout the organization.

4. The Dangers of Complacency

Finally, "A Tale of Two Cities" highlights the dangers of complacency. The novel is set in a time of great social upheaval, and the characters who are complacent or indifferent to the changes around them often suffer the consequences. For example, the Marquis St. Evrémonde is complacent about his position of power and privilege, which ultimately leads to his downfall.

In the workplace, managers need to be aware of the dangers of complacency. It can be easy to become comfortable with the status quo and to resist change, but this can lead to stagnation and decline. Managers willing to embrace change and take risks will be better positioned to succeed in the long run.


In conclusion, "A Tale of Two Cities" is a valuable source of lessons for today’s managers. The novel highlights the importance of adaptability, sacrifice, communication, and avoiding complacency. Managers who can apply these lessons in their own work will be well-positioned to succeed in today's fast-paced and ever-changing business environment.

Learn More About Professor David C. Wyld

heroes and villainshistoryfact or fictioncareeradvice

About the Creator

David Wyld

Professor, Consultant, Doer. Founder/Publisher of The IDEA Publishing ( & Modern Business Press (

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Comments (2)

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  • Mark Graham4 months ago

    What about Madame DeFarge and her knitting? Where could that fit it with business? I really liked your comparisons to the world. Could Madame D be an office manager?

  • Babs Iverson4 months ago

    "It was the best of times and the worst if times." My quote from Dickens novel seems appropriate for 2024. Your advice for managers using the themes of "The Tales of Two Cities" was impressive and excellenr advice to managers.

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