Author Profile Picture

Rod Webb

Glasstap Limited

Director and Co-Founder

Read more from Rod Webb

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1705321608055-0’); });

Why I’d Work for Mr Selfridge


I was chatting enthusiastically about Mr. Selfridge to one of my colleagues the other day – shocking I know, we should, I’m sure, have been getting on with something. (For those of you not in the UK and therefore missing out on the latest period drama to hit our screens, Mr Selfridge charts the rise of Selfridges, the prestigious department store in London’s Oxford Street.)

The interesting thing was that we both said how much we’d have liked to work for Mr. Selfridge or at least the version of him we’re seeing on our TV screens.

But what makes Mr Selfridge as depicted by the charismatic Jeremy Piven the sort of person you, or at least Tanya and I, want to follow?

The easy answer is he’s an inspiring leader. But what does that mean?

Well, he’s very good at creating a vision. From the very first episode, everyone who worked for him felt that they were on an adventure, that Selfridges was going to be something bigger, better and more exciting than anything before. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?

And importantly, he’s able to bring his vision to life, which he does himself on the shop floor, and not by sending a memo round. His enthusiasm too is electric - he’s a whirlwind. He could also be called a showman, a retail genius, a risk taker and a visionary.

But what Mr Selfridge is particularly good at, is genius at, is something we’ve been talking a lot about recently… employee engagement.

In our recent new modules for Trainers’ Library, we used the following definition of employee engagement:

“When an organisation values their employees and the work that they do and the employees value their organisation and the work that they do.”

And this pretty much, for me, epitomises what’s been going on at Selfridges. Although he’s clearly the driving force behind his business, interestingly, and heart-warmingly, Mr. Selfridge never seems to take credit to himself – he always recognises any achievements as the result of a team endeavour. And his team responds – almost matching his own innovation and daring.

Perhaps there’s one element of employee engagement we haven’t focused on enough yet – integrity of the leader. And perhaps that can be broken down into two other words – honesty and trust. Mr Selfridge certainly isn't flawless, particularly where his private life is concerned, but at Selfridges he does seem to live by these values.

He gave a great team talk a couple of weeks ago week, after it had come to light that a small number of employees were stealing from the store. And I loved the way he linked behaviours back to his vision for the store, his values and to his belief in his team:

“I wanted to talk to you about something that’s really important to me – honesty. Every customer of Selfridges can trust they’re getting exactly what they’re paying for. I’m proud of that, I hope you are too. Steal from this store, you steal from yourselves... Honest endeavour together – this is the spirit of Selfridges.”

In the same talk he also added, “Without trust, you can’t run anything.”

So, even in difficult circumstances, Mr. Selfridge reminds us that we’re in this together, that we’re a key part of the business and that the spirit of the business is the team working together and trusting one another.

Yep, I’d work for him.

One Response

  1. very good points made about a very good TV programme…..

    …..I wonder if modern day Selfridges learns/has learned from this as well?


Author Profile Picture
Rod Webb

Director and Co-Founder

Read more from Rod Webb

Get the latest from TrainingZone.

Elevate your L&D expertise by subscribing to TrainingZone’s newsletter! Get curated insights, premium reports, and event updates from industry leaders.


Thank you!