A Pope, A Governor and A CEO Walk Into A Bar…

March 14th, 2013

chrisIt may sound like a common bar room joke set up, but what do Marissa Mayer, Gov. Chris Christie (R) and the Pope Emeritus have in common? There’s no real punch line, but an important example for all of us. They have all made the tough decision and made what have been perceived by many as an unpopular choice. They have abandoned the conventional norm and took the servant leadership principle of putting the needs of the whole group ahead of a few – this is one of the 4 main functions of a servant leader.

Mayer has called her remote employees back to Yahoo HQ by June. If they fail to report back, they can resign. The reasoning has been cited as a move to improve productivity and collaboration, as well as to weed out those who are dialing it in and not actually doing much. It’s a highly publicized decision berated by the media and women’s groups. Mayer has been dubbed insensitive to women who work remotely and take care of their families. She has been villainized by others for taking the workplace back into the stone ages and ruining this opportunity for others in Silicon Valley and beyond. The media has stopped short of calling for the gallows to be lifted and Mayer to be marched forward as a sacrifice.

Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey was the big bold and brash republican front runner for the Republican Party’s 2016 bid for the White House, until recently. He also gave the keynote at the RNC conference during Romney’s bid in 2012. However, towards the end of the 2012 presidential campaign, the northeast was devastated by Hurricane Sandy, much of the New Jersey coastline was obliterated, bringing those community’s businesses and residential areas to their knees. Christie embraced President Obama’s help financially and in moral support during his on the ground visits. Christie praised Obama for his leadership during a press conference. Since then Christie has been ostracized by his party and frozen out of key alliances. In some circles he has been labeled a traitor.

Pope Benedict XVI made a historic choice to abdicate his position as head of the Catholic Church. No Pope has left office voluntarily since 1417, when Gregory XII stepped down. He has been criticized for his break with tradition. Some had swirled scandal and intrigue around the resignation that has been cited as a lack of strength to fulfill the duties of his office and effectively serve the people of the church. (http://www.bnowire.com/inbox/?id=1478)

Servant leadership is one that places the focus on the needs of many rather than just a few. Whether you agree with Mayer, Christie or even the Pope Emeritus or not, is not the issue. Each made decisions that they felt would be a greater benefit to others. They even jeopardized their own place within the communities they serve to put the greater vision first: the livelihood and growth of all within a company, the people they govern, and those they lead.

Mayer is focusing on improving profits and trimming the excess where needed by regrouping the human capital of her organization and the larger sum of employees.

Governor Christie was clear when he said that he was here to serve the public. That’s his job. So, party lines came down and he did what he said he would do – he did what was best for the people who elected him.

And the Pope Emeritus knew he physically could no longer be effective as a leader, as head of the Catholic Church. He stepped aside so the people would be served not with just mind, but with strength.

These are very large and very public examples of servant leadership in action. You don’t have to agree with or condone what they have done. In fact the gift, or the lesson, is that even in the face of their differing levels of criticisms they put the larger community they serve ahead of others’ expectations. We can all learn something from this. Always remember, opinions are like families, everyone’s got one.

Do what you believe is right, what is fair, and what is for the greater good of those you serve.

I’d like to hear what YOU think!

One Response to “A Pope, A Governor and A CEO Walk Into A Bar…”

  1. Flor Mazeda says:

    Great point, Maria. Being a leader takes guts. But you don’t have to be a CEO, Governor or Pope. Just being a family leader has its moments when you have to make tough decisions, take charge and call the not so easy shots. Many times you’ll face the backslash, you’ll be confronted and ridicule, that’s precisely when you must stand your ground, take charge of the situation, face the challenge head on and have Faith in God and yourself.

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