MattAndJojang's Blog

God. Life. Spirituality.

Posts Tagged ‘Leadership

A Manifesto For Introverts

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A Manifesto For Introverts

Solitude matters, and for some people it is the air that they breathe.

— Susan Cain

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Written by MattAndJojang

January 5, 2014 at 12:26 pm

Nelson Mandela, South African Icon of Peaceful Resistance, Dies

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Nelson Mandela

JOHANNESBURG — Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first black president and an enduring icon of the struggle against racial oppression, died on Thursday, the government announced, leaving the nation without its moral center at a time of growing dissatisfaction with the country’s leaders.

“Our nation has lost its greatest son,” President Jacob Zuma said in a televised address on Thursday night, adding that Mr. Mandela had died at 8:50 p.m. local time. “His humility, his compassion and his humanity earned him our love.”

Mr Zuma called Mr. Mandela’s death “the moment of our greatest sorrow,” and said that South Africa’s thoughts were now with the former president’s family. “They have sacrificed much and endured much so that our people could be free,” he said.

Mr. Mandela spent 27 years in prison after being convicted of treason by the white minority government, only to forge a peaceful end to white rule by negotiating with his captors after his release in 1990. He led the African National Congress, long a banned liberation movement, to a resounding electoral victory in 1994, the first fully democratic election in the country’s history.

Mr. Mandela, who was 95, served just one term as South Africa’s president and had not been seen in public since 2010, when the nation hosted the soccer World Cup. But his decades in prison and his insistence on forgiveness over vengeance made him a potent symbol of the struggle to end this country’s brutally codified system of racial domination, and of the power of peaceful resolution in even the most intractable conflicts.

Years after he retreated from public life, his name still resonated as an emblem of his effort to transcend decades of racial division and create what South Africans called a Rainbow Nation.

Yet Mr. Mandela’s death comes during a period of deep unease and painful self-examination for South Africa.

In the past year and a half, the country has faced perhaps its most serious unrest since the end of apartheid, provoked by a wave of wildcat strikes by angry miners, a deadly response on the part of the police, a messy leadership struggle within the A.N.C. and the deepening fissures between South Africa’s rulers and its impoverished masses.

Scandals over corruption involving senior members of the party have fed a broader perception that Mr. Mandela’s near saintly legacy from the years of struggle has been eroded by a more recent scramble for self-enrichment among a newer elite.

After spending decades in penurious exile, many political figures returned to find themselves at the center of a grab for power and money. President Jacob Zuma was charged with corruption before rising to the presidency in 2009, though the charges were dropped on largely technical grounds. He has faced renewed scrutiny in the past year over $27 million spent in renovations to his house in rural Zululand.

Graphic cellphone videos of police officers abusing people they have detained have further fueled anger at a government seen increasingly out of touch with the lives of ordinary South Africans.

Mr. Mandela served as president from 1994 to 1999, stepping aside to allow his deputy, Thabo Mbeki, to run and take the reins. Mr. Mandela spent his early retirement years focused on charitable causes for children and later speaking out about AIDS, which has killed millions of Africans, including his son Makgatho, who died in 2005.

Mr. Mandela retreated from public life in 2004 at the age of 85, largely withdrawing to his homes in the upscale Johannesburg suburb of Houghton and his ancestral village in the Eastern Cape, Qunu.

~ Lydia Polgreen,  The New York Times

Written by MattAndJojang

December 6, 2013 at 6:44 am

Pope Benedict XVI’s Humble Courage

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Pope Benedict

Photo: Andrew Medichini/AP

Like scores of fellow Catholics, I was initially unnerved by the pope’s decision to resign. The more I think about it, though, the more sense it makes. At 85, Pope Benedict XVI realized that he simply couldn’t continue to do what’s necessary for the communion of faithful.

A strong administrative steward (butler and bank controversies aside) and a brilliant theologian, Benedict’s fulfillment of duty over the past 8 years has been truly impressive, albeit neither flashy nor duly appreciated. One of Benedict’s first undertakings was to address the child sex abuse scandal that recently plagued the church. Benedict moved swiftly and decisively. As a close confidant of Pope John Paul II, Benedict was familiar with the toll it was taking on the church, mincing neither word nor action: declaring the abusers “gravely immoral” and removing the likes of Father Marcial Maciel from active ministry. Pope John Paul was purportedly in shock and couldn’t fathom the evil required.

Nearing his end of days, John Paul aspired to show the face of God, emphasizing the sanctity of life to show that all life was paramount. His ailing health became an asset enabling him to embody the church’s pro-life doctrine, an undeniable example of the fragility and impermanence of the human condition. But his denial and infirmity may have inadvertently prevented timelier action.

As the controversy consumed the church, then Cardinal Ratzinger, witnessed the consequences first-hand. When he became Vicar of Christ, Benedict spent an inordinate amount of time readdressing issues left behind by his predecessors. Benedict instituted behind-the-scenes reforms and mechanisms aimed at preventing a repeat of the misdeeds of those vile few. The true impact of his contributions is yet to be seen. It is impossible to deny, though, that God’s Rottweiler cracked the whip.

In the corporate world, we see CEOs who know when it is time to pass the reins. We also see CEOs who continue long past their prime. Bill Gates handed Microsoft over, whereas Steve Jobs arguably left Apple too late. We can argue their respective leadership skills, however, one clearly bridged the transition while the other, simply, didn’t have a continuity of operations plan.

And now we see the pope, holding one of the most storied and impactful leadership positions in history, a visionary and servant leader, emerging, as a spiritual symbol of courage. Perhaps after deep reflection, Benedict decided that the church needed to bridge a leadership transition smoothly so that the progress and reforms instituted could continue, unaffected. Crises arise and fester when leadership is incoherent and incompetent; so too does spiritual decay.

The pope has dedicated 85 years to the ministry of Christ. It’s inconceivable to think he woke up one day and decided he was too tired to continue. Perhaps God is simply doing what he has done for millennia, using the humble as shining examples, a Christian grace, to be revered and replicated.

One of Benedict’s greatest contributions may well be his voluntary resignation: a status quo reset for the greatest of all CEO torch passes. Greater papal self-awareness could become the new norm. His actions could also pave the way for future popes to resign – engendering Benedict a trendsetter.

He has set the stage for the next-generation to take the mantle and lead Catholics globally. In a world increasingly turning away from God, Benedict’s example should well inspire greater leadership for the Apostolic church, particularly during periods of tumult.

It was with great humility that Benedict resigned. It would have been easiest to ride out his tenure in a limited fashion citing doctor’s orders. He chose a difficult and controversial path instead – one not taken in nearly 600 years. No doubt it weighed heavily and was made only with great deference to the larger needs of the church’s more than 1 billion followers.

By breaking with tradition, Benedict encompassed the nature of a leader who understands deeply what the job of the pope means. He refused to let the pressures of convention confine what he believed to be necessary. Instead, Pope Benedict, not the perceptions of and by others, defined his service and his tenure, and in doing so, defines the indelible mark of his legacy.

While Pope John Paul exemplified the human condition and the tenet of universal suffering, Benedict exemplifies a fundamental tenet of God’s nature – to reject the trappings of prideful arrogance and choosing instead to offer the church the divinely inspired representation of utter humility.

In the end, one of Pope Benedict’s most lasting teachings will remind us that to be a trendsetter necessitates we are first and foremost humble servants of Christ. “It is not that I have already taken hold of it or have already attained perfect maturity, but I continue in my pursuit in hope that I may possess it, since I have indeed been taken possession of by Christ.”

~ Timothy W. Coleman

Written by MattAndJojang

March 1, 2013 at 11:02 am

The Spiritual Side of Steve Jobs

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It’s well known that the secret to Apple’s meteoric success in the world of consumer technology was the vision, leadership and creativity of Steve Jobs, the company’s celebrity founder.

“Steve built a company and culture that is unlike any other in the world and we are going to stay true to that — it is in our DNA,” Tim Cook, Jobs’ successor, wrote in a staff memo after Jobs resigned from his post as Apple’s CEO in August.

What’s less talked about is what drove Jobs, who died Wednesday at 56.

As with anyone, Jobs’ values were shaped by his upbringing and life experiences. He was born in 1955 in San Francisco and grew up amid the rise of hippie counterculture. Bob Dylan and the Beatles were his two favorite musical acts, and he shared their political leanings, antiestablishment views and, reportedly, youthful experimentation with psychedelic drug usage.

The name of Jobs’ company is said to be inspired by the Beatles’ Apple Corps, which repeatedly sued the electronics maker for trademark infringement until signing an exclusive digital distribution deal with iTunes. Like the Beatles, Jobs took a spiritual retreat to India and regularly walked around his neighborhood and the office barefoot.

Traversing India sparked Jobs’ conversion to Buddhism. Kobun Chino, a monk, presided over his wedding to Laurene Powell, a Stanford University MBA.

‘Life is an intelligent thing’

Rebirth is a precept of Buddhism, and Apple experienced rebirth of sorts when Jobs returned, after he was fired, to remake a company that had fallen the verge of bankruptcy.

“I believe life is an intelligent thing, that things aren’t random,” Jobs said in a 1997 interview with Time, providing a glimpse into his complicated belief system that extends well beyond the Buddhist teachings.

Karma is another principle of the religion, but it didn’t appear to be a system Jobs lived by. If he feared karma coming back to bite him, the sentiment wasn’t evident in his public statements about competitors and former colleagues, calling them “bozos” lacking taste. Those who worked for Jobs described him as a tyrant they feared meeting in an elevator.

“You’d be surprised how hard people work around here,” Jobs said in a 2004 interview with Businessweek. “They work nights and weekends, sometimes not seeing their families for a while. Sometimes people work through Christmas to make sure the tooling is just right at some factory in some corner of the world so our product comes out the best it can be.”

Some engineers who worked tirelessly on the original Mac emerged from the project estranged from their spouses and children. Jobs’ relentless work ethic may have been shaped by some of his dysfunctional family affairs as well.

‘I’ve done things I’m not proud of’

Jobs was adopted by Clara and Paul Jobs, who promised his birth mother, Joanne Simpson (whom Jobs later tracked down with the help of a private investigator), that they would send him to a university. He dropped out of Reed College after one semester, and he reportedly never was willing to talk to his birth father.

Jobs had a daughter, Lisa, out of wedlock with Chrisann Brennan. He denied paternity for many years, swearing in a court document that he was sterile. Later, he had three more kids with Laurene Powell.

“I’ve done a lot of things I’m not proud of, such as getting my girlfriend pregnant when I was 23 and the way I handled that,” Jobs said in a statement in 2011 to promote his authorized biography.

That youthful indiscretion came before Jobs turned to Buddhism and karma.

‘The core values are the same’

The Buddhist scriptures, according to tradition, were transmitted in secret, as were many of Apple’s business dealings and Jobs’ personal struggles. Like the paranoid secrecy that surrounded product development at Apple, Jobs spurned most reporters’ interview requests, misled them in statements he did give, refused to disclose details of his cancer to investors until undergoing an operation and became shrouded in a scandal involving backdating stock options.

By all accounts, he played by his own rules.

Those who disclosed his secrets or whispered about his company were punished or threatened. Apple sued, and eventually settled with, the anonymous young blogger behind Think Secret, which accurately reported on Apple rumors in the early 2000s.

And then there’s the story of a lost iPhone 4 prototype, which was purchased and publicized by the blog Gizmodo.

“When this whole thing with Gizmodo happened, I got a lot of advice from people that said, ‘You’ve got to just let it slide,’ ” Jobs said onstage at a technology convention in 2010. “I thought deeply about this, and I ended up concluding that the worst thing that could possibly happen as we get big and we get a little more influence in the world is if we change our core values and start letting it slide. I can’t do that. I’d rather quit.”

That stance was repeated this year, with Jobs still as CEO though on medical leave, when another employee left a prototype iPhone 5 in a bar. Apple enlisted the help of San Francisco police to investigate.

“We have the same values now as we had then,” Jobs said at the AllThingsD conference. “We’re a little more experienced, certainly beat-up, but the core values are the same.”

‘We’re here to put a dent in the universe’

Perhaps the most salient of those values is, simply, to make an outsize impact on society. Or, as Jobs put it, “We’re here to put a dent in the universe.” However, Apple and Jobs didn’t make much of a dent with philanthropy.

“We do things where we feel we can make a significant contribution,” Jobs told Businessweek in 2004. “And our primary goal here is … not to be the biggest or the richest.”

To achieve that goal, Jobs was an obsessive micromanager. Part of the reason Jobs’ DNA is so ingrained in Apple is because he forced his hand onto so many parts of it. He personally fielded some customer-service requests sent to him via e-mail; he was active in product design, co-authoring more than 300 patents; and he had a hand in the marketing efforts, including the famous Think Different and Mac vs. PC campaigns.

“What is Apple, after all?” Jobs mused to Time. “Apple is about people who think ‘outside the box,’ people who want to use computers to help them change the world, to help them create things that make a difference, and not just to get a job done.”

‘Focus and simplicity’

Jobs famously lured John Sculley, the PepsiCo president, to run Apple by saying: “Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water, or do you want a chance to change the world?” (They had a permanent falling out when Jobs was booted from Apple.)

“What makes Steve’s methodology different from everyone else’s is that he always believed the most important decisions you make are not the things you do, but the things you decide not to do,” Sculley said in a 2010 interview with Businessweek. “He’s a minimalist. I remember going into Steve’s house, and he had almost no furniture in it. He just had a picture of Einstein, whom he admired greatly, and he had a Tiffany lamp and a chair and a bed. He just didn’t believe in having lots of things around, but he was incredibly careful in what he selected.”

Restraint, at least in gadget design and interior decorating, was a primary principle for Jobs. Shortly after his return to Apple, he shuttered several divisions and turned his attention to a few key initiatives. Even today, Apple’s product lines and revenue are zeroed in on just a few industries in which the company can dominate.

“That’s been one of my mantras: focus and simplicity,” Jobs told Businessweek in 1998. “Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”

He elaborated in the interview with the publication six years later: “It comes from saying no to 1,000 things to make sure we don’t get on the wrong track or try to do too much. We’re always thinking about new markets we could enter, but it’s only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.”

‘Stay hungry. Stay foolish.’

Apple’s management team members have each adopted parts of this code.

Jonathan Ive, the industrial-design executive, echoes Jobs’ simplicity ethic.

Scott Forstall, the mobile software lead, has apparently inherited some of Jobs’ enthusiasm and showmanship.

And Cook, the former operations chief and, by some accounts, current workaholic micromanager, runs the company like he manages his private life: shrouded in secrecy.

However, Cook comes out of his shell in order to impart the ethical standards onto new recruits. He, along with other execs, teaches at Apple University.

Apple University ensures that employees are thoroughly educated on the company’s principles and that Jobs’ ideals live on. Jobs believed people never stop learning and should voraciously open their minds to new ideas.

Put another way, like in his closing statement to Stanford’s graduating class in 2005, “Stay hungry. Stay foolish.”

~ Mark Milan, CNN

4 Leadership Lessons From The Chile Miners

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Photo: Hugo Infante/Government of Chile

 

Like millions, perhaps billions, my eyes were glued to the screen as the rescue capsule brought the first Chilean miner to the surface to see his wife and children for the first time in 69 days.

In spite of all the media attention and the emotionally charged atmosphere, what really struck me was something I did not expect to see. When the first rescue worker descended the shaft and emerged from the capsule to greet the 33 trapped men, I was floored by how disciplined, organized, strong, and in good spirits the miners appeared to be. Every single one of them.

And no, they weren’t just putting on a show for the cameras. After 69 days trapped in that hell-hole, I seriously doubt that was even possible.

Don’t forget, not only were these men trapped under a half mile of rock in 90+ degree heat for more than two months, but for the first 17 days after the mine collapsed, they subsisted on just two days of food and water without a hint that anyone even suspected they had survived the cave-in.

But they organized, supported each other, and in my mind, demonstrated the very best of what the human race is capable of doing under extremely challenging conditions. Here are 4 leadership lessons we can all learn from these 33 extraordinary men:

  1. Humans really are at their best under extreme adversity. We need look no further than the poise and control of all those miners when they greeted the first person they’d set eyes on in 69 days to know that humans have a surprising ability to pull together and do amazing things under extraordinarily challenging conditions. Even in business, challenges bring out the best in us.
  2. Leadership, management, and organization are not just business concepts. They’re human concepts, terms that attempt to capture how men and women uniquely organize in groups or teams to take on extraordinary challenges, even the chaos of the physical world. We attempt to replicate these concepts in the business world, but they occurred first in nature.
  3. Embracing emotion aids survival. All the hugging, kissing, and crying by almost everyone present throughout the ordeal, including Chile’s president and the rescue workers, wasn’t unique to this extraordinary event. I’ve spent time in South America, including Chile, and the people are very open, comfortable, and in touch with their emotions. I think that contributed to the miner’s survival. Feelings are our warning and guidance systems. I wonder if corporate America’s outwardly stoic nature, especially with respect to emotion, is success-limiting behavior.
  4. Democratic organizations or “social collectives” where everyone has a voice are inherently problematic. Not to mention they would fall completely apart in times of crisis, which all companies face. Had it been every man for himself instead of shift leader Luis Urzua (pictured with Chile President Sebastian Pinera) taking control, the miners would never have survived. As Jena McGregor explains in her Washington Post column:

“Immediately after the miners became trapped, Urzua reportedly got all of them to share in the sacrifice by rationing their two-day supply of food to last 17 days–when they were finally discovered–and to eat their food together at the same time. He crafted a disciplined structure to their subterranean lives, setting up orderly work shifts and creating a map of the miners’ topography to help rescuers. And he appealed to his compatriots’ emotional needs, encouraging miners to talk on camera to their families, serving as a “calming” presence …”

Bottom line: While not a “leadership lesson” per se, I’d be remiss if I didn’t call attention to the flawless execution of every stage of the rescue operation. It was truly impressive. And you know what? Not only did I find this entire experience inspiring, but knowing that there are unheralded leaders like Urzua scattered around the globe fills me with hope and optimism for all of us.

Source: bnet.com

Written by MattAndJojang

October 15, 2010 at 8:03 am

People Power’s Philippine Saint: Corazon Aquino, 1933-2009

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Cory Aquino

The arc of Corazon Aquino’s life lent itself to maxims, but two hard-nosed ones seem particularly worth pointing out. First, political sainthood is a gift from heaven with a Cinderella deadline — once past midnight, you are a pumpkin. Second, personal virtues are never a guarantee of effective or successful governance. What was truly shocking about Aquino’s tumultuous six-year term as President of the Philippines was that those maxims proved untrue. Midnight always threatened Aquino but never struck; and she was a good woman whose goodness alone, at the very end, was what proved enough, if only by an iota, to save her country.

The exact opposite was foretold by the husband whose murder she vowed to avenge and whose political legacy she promised to preserve. Anyone who succeeded Ferdinand Marcos, Benigno Aquino declared, would smell like horse manure six months after taking power. The residual effects of the dictatorship of Marcos and his wife Imelda, he said, could guarantee no success — only disaster, despair and failure. (See Aquino’s life in photos.)

But after a popular rebellion in 1986 overthrew Marcos and proclaimed her President in his stead, Benigno Aquino’s widow lasted more than six months; indeed, she lasted her entire six-year term. Furthermore, she retained a whiff of sanctity even as her government rotted, even as Filipinos worked hard to prove George Orwell’s aphorism that saints are guilty until proven innocent. As Aquino ruled, every month seemed to diminish the political miracle of her astonishing rise to power, but she survived. And her survival guaranteed the continuation of democracy in her homeland. (Read TIME’s 1986 Woman of the Year cover story on Aquino.)

The Philippines is still a raucous political hothouse. And every now and then it seems to return to the brink. But the dire days of deadly coup plots are over. Corazon Aquino died a revered figure, after an excruciating struggle with colon cancer, in a hospital in the Philippines.

Corazon Cojuangco was born into one of the wealthiest families in the islands. Fated to be married off in one dynastic match or the other, she was courted by and fell in love with Benigno Aquino Jr., a brilliant and ambitious journalist turned politician whose own family was as illustrious though not quite as wealthy as her baronial clan. The marriage would help propel Benigno’s career even as “Cory” was a cipher at his side, the high-born wife whose social ministrations at smoke-filled political sessions flattered her husband’s supporters. Benigno’s popularity soon challenged Ferdinand Marcos, who had been elected President in 1965. And so, when Marcos assumed dictatorial power in 1972, he threw his rival into jail. Corazon then became her husband’s instrument, smuggling messages out of prison and raising funds for the opposition. But as long as he lived, she was merely an extension of Benigno Aquino.

All that changed on Aug. 21, 1983, when Benigno Aquino returned to the Philippines after three years of exile in the U.S. only to be shot dead even before he could set foot on the tarmac of Manila’s international airport. Filipinos were outraged, and suspicion immediately fell on Marcos. At Benigno’s funeral, mourners transformed Corazon into a symbol. (Read TIME’s 1986 Woman of the Year cover story on Aquino.)

The devout and stoic Roman Catholic widow became the incarnation of a pious nation that had itself suffered silently through more than a decade of autocratic rule. Millions lined the funeral route and repeated her nickname as if saying the rosary: “Cory, Cory, Cory.” If she had agreed to let the massive demonstrations of outrage pass in front of Malacanang Palace, said Vicente Paterno, a Marcos official who would later be her ally, “that could have toppled Marcos.” But it would be nearly three years before she would learn to take advantage of her power. Instead, she concentrated on the fractious opposition, using her moral influence to help it choose a leader to oppose Marcos.

Filipinos saw her as that leader, but she declined the role until November 1985. It was then that a Marcos-controlled court acquitted the military men accused of killing Benigno. Marcos then decided to hold a snap presidential election to reaffirm his mandate.

Though hampered by the government’s near monopoly of the media, the Aquino campaign attracted millions of fervent supporters, all decked out in yellow, the reluctant candidate’s favorite color. And when Marcos cheated her of victory in the February 1986 vote, the outcry was tremendous — and his doom was sealed. Bearing witness to their political allegiance, the millions who crammed the streets to protect reformist soldiers who had mutinied against Marcos chanted the now familiar mantra: “Cory, Cory, Cory.” Nuns armed only with rosaries knelt in front of tanks, stopping them in their tracks.

By way of 24-hour cable news, the world witnessed four days of the military-civilian rebellion, a preview of similar uprisings that would later shake out the autocracies of Asia, Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. And then, in a sweep of U.S. helicopters, Marcos was whisked off to exile in Hawaii and Aquino was proclaimed President of the Philippines. It was a most astonishing political story. TIME named her Woman of the Year at the end of 1986, the first female to hold TIME’s annual distinction on her own since the newly crowned Queen Elizabeth in 1952.

To govern the Philippines, she would need all the good will she could muster. The country was one breath away from the economic morgue, while Manila’s brand of democracy was built on reeds. Aquino survived eight coup attempts by plotters who hoped to head off her liberal constitution and the return of a bicameral Congress. She took pride in her fortitude. “I have to project my confidence even more than some men do,” she said early in her presidency. “No one can say that Cory did not give it her all.”

Aquino was convinced that her presidency was divinely inspired, even as her political foes mocked her piety. “If the country needs me,” she said, “God will spare me.” And miracle of miracles, she proved God right and her critics wrong. She would be succeeded by a democratically elected general — the first to be at her side as Marcos threatened to mow down her supporters in the streets. She anointed him despite the opposition of her church. Indeed, Fidel Ramos would be the first Protestant to lead the overwhelmingly Catholic country. And he would give the islands a taste of stability and economic prosperity that she was unable to deliver. But without her withstanding the enemies of freedom, he would never have had the chance.

After the presidency, she ran a think tank and center on nonviolence that carried her husband’s name. She also every so often led public protests opposing the policies of her successors, if not her successors themselves. She led demonstrations to remind Ramos that she had promised to dismantle America’s bases in the Philippines. He complied. She joined crowds that led to the overthrow of the inept and corrupt government of the actor-politician Joseph Estrada. She also led protests against her former ally, the second woman President of the Philippines, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, in the wake of corruption charges against Arroyo and her husband. Whenever the country appeared to be in a crisis, Cory Aquino rose above the bureaucratic procrastination that had always bogged it down, reminding her people that they once astonished the world with their bravery — and that they could do it again. But Filipinos must now take stock. Whom will they march with now that their saint has gone to meet her God?

Source: www.time.com

Written by MattAndJojang

August 1, 2009 at 9:25 am