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Tuesday
Apr292014

What managers can learn from Saints

In April 2014 the Catholic Church canonised two saints.  Both Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII were inducted into the catholic hall of fame for their acts as exemplars of their religion.

The Catholic Church is one of the oldest institutions in the world.  Modern companies are lucky to survive 10-20 years, but this organisation has lasted for 2,000 years.  A big part of all religions is the worship of people who do extraordinary things, or who other people will follow.

Let's have a look at the process, and you will see some lessons which could be learned in our own companies.

Importantly, a saint is to be publicly venerated by the whole Church.

When declaring a saint, the church looks at:

  • The life of a person. It looks at what the person did, how he/she reacted to the events of life, and
  • Is the person still alive in the faith of the people?

The nomination comes up from a local branch (diocese) and then makes its way up to Rome.

Now the question of miracles.  The recognition of a miracle verifies that the person is with God and has intercessory power with Him. The Blessed person does not grant the favour herself but intercedes with God on behalf of those who ask the favour.

Here are some lessons from the sainthood process.  Start from the end.

  1. Have a good idea of why you would recognise stars (e.g someone for others to look up to or emulate).
  2. Design a prize (a way to celebrate the stars)
  3. Make a big deal of "publicly venerating" them.  So celebrate!
  4. Have a defined process for recognition.
  5. Get nominations from everyday people.

Whether or not you are religious, you have to admire how religions recognise their stars, whether it be the Jewish Tzadik, the Islamic Mu'min, the Hindu rishi or guru, and the Buddhist arhat or bodhisattva.

In business, we should think beyond the token employee of the month, or employee of the year, we could go further.

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