OPINION | Leadership and management lessons from Jesus

In this season of recession when deception has become a powerful tool of preventing depression, it will be relevant to share some sound leadership and management lessons from the reason for this season, the Grand Master Jesus. Gold and silver I do not have to share to friends and relations at Easter but what I have today is more precious than silver and gold – what that man of Galillee had taught the world before Business and Management Schools emerged in 1920’s. The man who represents the truth is the original big man whose resurrection more than two thousand years ago, we are celebrating today as it has been written and rewritten that indeed, Mr. death could not hold him captive even in the grave. That was how he as the truth, conquered the power of deception, a powerless power. In this dispensation, that truth has been recognized as the most powerful force on earth.

As I noted in this column on 17 February this year in a treatise titled,Truth in a Grave,I had never been conscious of the power of this ancient truth until 2013 when a Muslim friend and a colleague and former editor, sent me a stunningly deep Easter greeting: “Martins, this season means just one inescapable fact: that you can actually keep truth in a grave but it won’t stay there.” I was shocked to receive this message from a Muslim. I have been sharing the import of the message actually credited to Clarence W. Hall who originally noted that:

“If Easter says anything to us today, it says this: You can put truth in a grave, but it won’t stay there. You can nail it to a cross, wrap it in winding sheets and shut it up in a tomb, but it will rise! That is the “resurrection power” that we are celebrating today. And that is why no academic or principality or power has risen to describe the very influential son of God as the late Jesus. He is alive, Amen. That is also why the man that is both prominent and significant in heaven and on earth is always in the news media and media art. Even in the sophisticated West, if editors of news magazines are short of remarkable cover stories, they can create any settings and leads around Jesus, either positively or negatively, and pronto they have a good story to sell like hot cakes. Rick Warren, an American cleric, and author of The Purpose Driven Life, claims in the book, one of the best sellers in 2ist century so far, that some people are prominent but not significant, while some are significant but not prominent. I see the big man of Nazareth as both significant and prominent and there are some remarkable lessons that have formed a body of knowledge I would like to share with managers and leaders that are grappling with how to deliver returns on investment (ROI) and services to the people (electorate) in global context.

For instance, the other day in my industry, (the print media) one of the best English language newspapers in the world, The New York Times, had been so affected by the advent of the ‘citizen journalism’ that their bottom lines were not so good in 2012 despite their distinctive journalism that they had to cross over to a world-class broadcaster in the UK, the British Broadcasting Corporation where they (head hunted) and recruited a retiring director general, Mr. Mark Thompson as the CEO of the very successful newspaper. It is one of the most significant and strategic cross-overs from broadcasting to print genre in this complicated digital journalism agewhere management and leadership skills are rare. Journalism education has been of very high standard. But the business part of journalism, which is now more critical, has been suffering. But The New York Times board and management have taught the news media world how to do strategic recruitment at such a time like this. Yes, a time such as this when citizens have taken over (digital) journalism using text, video and sound without concomitant training.

Brethren, I just discovered that consultants to the New York Times, ,for instance, may have studied some lessons from the management school of Jesus, after all. We will share the paradigm shift shortly. As we mark the phenomenal resurrection today, let’s study and imbibe some management expertise that has emerged from the school of the great man, Jesus. Even so many management specialists such as Bob Briner, Matthew Kelly,etc have shared some of the many timeless lessons. The servant leader, Jesus teaches us, for instance to recognize that we are a great asset and very valuable. Matthew Kelly’s Rediscover Jesusreleased in 2015 pinpoints this lesson very succinctly when he says that Jesus believes that we are infinitely valuable and we should believe in the power that, that carries as our brand equity wherever we go. And so, any time, we don’t believe that, we will be living in a state of deception, disconnected from the deepest, truest reality. Jesus, an oracle and an orator of all time, revealed this value proposition when he said to us with great clarity: “You are the light of the world… You are the salt of the earth…You are so valuable that God has counted and keeps track of every hair on your head…So often, the world managers, supervisors want to belittle and even demonise us (as workers) and put us down. (The secular) world system can be so impersonal, reducing us to numbers or defining us by our functions. But the management guru in Jesus offers a radically different view by saying we are infinitely valuable. This is in great contrast to the depersonalization of the world as the great manager continually reaffirms God’s personal interest in us even to the numbering of the hairs on our head.
I have just read from the author of The Manager: Inside The Minds of Football’s Leaders, Mike Carsonthat this is also the management strategy of the special one, Jose Mourinho, wherever he has managed football clubs: That the Portuguese and current manager of Manchester United in the UK, would more than anything else, affirm that his players’ value is not derived from what they (can) do but from who they are – as special creatures that can do all things and win laurels…It is said that, that was how he has made many not-so talented players such as Christiano Ronaldo to be as resourceful and achieving as the talented Lionel Messi when he met Ronaldo at the Real Madrid, Spain not too long ago. Recall that I once described Ronaldo as a “reconstructed phenomenon” who is not as talented as Messi of Barcelona, Spain. But though deft management of his social and emotional intelligence, Mourinho has made (of) him (Ronaldo) as Jesus would – making him to believe in who he is and what he can do. That is Ronaldo who just did it again in Germany with Bayern Munich.

Master Jesus had A Plan:
It is incredible how so many leaders and managers at different levels assume positions and offices without clear-cut manifestos, blue print or master plan they should follow faithfully. This is the road to failure. Jesus had a plan he executed faithfully. And it was his most critical success factor. He knew where he was going. He knew, for instance, that his plan would end up in Jerusalem where the ultimate sacrifice would be required of him. This teaches us that a plan, as your compass, puts you in charge of your energies and activities. Do you want to lead without a plan? Emulate Jesus today.

And He Prepared Very Well:
In this time when we see celebration of mediocrity in an age when operational efficiency is a key builder of brand equity and critical to service delivery, one great leadership lesson from Jesus is the power of preparation. As Bob Briner notes, in a cosmic sense, Jesus’ preparation was without a beginning and was forever. But in an earthly sense, he prepared for thirty years before beginning to execute his strategic plans. He, unlike some African leaders, did not get to the ministry before launching his policy and growth plans. The great planner, Jesus believes that inadequate preparation produces inadequate results. Undoubtedly, Jesus based much of his approach to accomplishing his plan on his understanding of the Old Testament. And so he had a foundation of knowledge upon which to base his actions, and he executed them brilliantly. To succeed, we need to follow this action plan – foundation of knowledge of action plans, not by intuition of ad-hocism.

He Chose His Associates:
Jesus, the servant leader, has taught us an ancient principle that if you are hiring, don’t go through the trouble to find and attract the best possible talent that you will later hamstring with a staff he does not want and vice versa. And here is the thing, you should give your managers the freedom to choose their key people and in an orderly manner, bring in people to replace those who will be moving on. Besides, the great teacher wants us to note that if you are being considered for a management position, do not jeopardize your reputation and future opportunities by agreeing to a position in which you must keep the present staff. Briner also agrees that, ‘It rarely works”. How? Jesus carefully chose his own associates (disciples). True, one of the twelve betrayed him but managers and leaders would wish they had been successful in selecting the right employees/ministers eleven out of twelve times. If this often becomes the outcome, they would be more successful and better rated. This management history shows that Jesus did an extraordinary job of selecting his associates. If you understand this construct, you will know that, in any case, even Judas who betrayed him, was part of it. So, always remember the Jesus lesson here: Choose your closest associates, and allow those you hire to do the same thing. Most experts including Briner agree that it is the best way to increase your odds for success.

He Dealt with Corruption Instantly:
Despite his humility, the leader did not allow his meekness to be taken as a weakness. He spotted corruption in the temple immediately and he did not waste time. His anger was first noticed against corruption when he dealt decisively with money changers in the temple (in Jerusalem). As soon as he spotted the activities of the extortionists and usurers in the House of God, he did not constitute any committees to study the little foxes that could spoil the vines of his ministry. Nor did he postpone his action. The angry boss immediately and forcefully drove the scammers out. This is a powerful lesson for anyone in management or leadership position. There should be mechanisms for detecting scams and other improprieties in any organizations and action should not be delayed. And it should not be covered up and culprits should be named and shamed instantly as Jesus did.

He Pruned for Productivity:
Grace and capacity to prune for productivity is one great lesson that modern leaders and managers should learn from the greatest leader of all time, Jesus. We do not need to agonize over redundancies, overlapping functions and unbearable overheads amid dwindling incomes. Through his actions and teachings, Jesus demonstrated that he expected his associates to be fruitful and productive. He said so clearly, “I am the true vine, and My father is the vine dresser.

Every branch in me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit”. This is so useful at this time when most leaders and managers do not know what to do with the employees that are no longer productive. Borrow a leaf from Jesus today and save yourself by pruning for efficiency and productivity. Enjoy your Easter with these useful lessons from the timeless school of the original teacher who was there when Business and Management Schools were being planned for mankind. Do you agree?

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