Business Lessons Learned in the Monastery

When I lived in the monastery as a Catholic priest, 20% of my superiors thought they were Divinely inspired. Now that I’m working in corporate America, the number’s up to 80%. In my company, I’m one of the few who has a core competency for dealing with executives who believe themselves to be infallible. My CEO has even recognized this skill and has me report directly to him to assist in changing the company’s culture. Oddly enough, my years in the Church gave me some decent skills for succeeding in the business world. I often feel that the jobs have proven to be quite similar, much of my work continues to remain priestly: building community, repairing trust, offering hope, and trying to heal an inherently flawed human system.

Morale continues to remain dismal in most companies and employee surveys reveal three disturbing trends: nobody trusts, workers don’t believe senior management, and employees are too stressed out to care. Problems with trust, belief, and caring. When I lived behind the cloistered walls, we referred to these dynamics as a crisis of Faith, Hope, and Charity. Corporate America is facing a spiritual problem as much as a fiscal one. Napoleon once said that leaders are dealers in hope. That sounds like a sacred quality to me. So, maybe it’s not all that surprising that the job of today’s executive is as much spiritual as it is managerial.

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