AMHERST, Mass. - Today’s business leaders can benefit by following some of the practical lessons taught by Jesus, according to Charles C. Manz, professor of business leadership at the University of Massachusetts and author of the new book "The Leadership Wisdom of Jesus."
The book focuses on a few basic concepts drawn from Jesus’s teachings that include: valuing forgiveness over judgment; understanding the power of humility and compassion; recognizing the value of each individual; and practicing moral and ethical leadership. Manz argues in the book that business leaders and companies that practice these concepts perform better than others over the long haul.
Manz cites the example of Aaron Feuerstein. In 1995, Feuerstein’s Malden Mills factory in Lawrence, Mass., was destroyed by fire. But instead of closing the mill, he kept all of his 2,400 workers on the payroll, costing him $1.5 million per week, until the facility was rebuilt. Today the company is thriving thanks to Feuerstein’s unselfish act, Manz says. "He simply put the welfare of others ahead of himself."
Manz says the book was inspired by his experiences speaking about his concept of SuperLeadership ? where business leaders work to create teams of individuals, each of whom is a strong self-leader. Following talks on SuperLeadership, Manz says, he was frequently approached by people who commented that his ideas resonated strongly with their religious beliefs. "The issue kept coming up," Manz says. "Over time, I concluded that there was a natural linkage between self-leadership, SuperLeadership, and these spiritual ideas."
Manz says his previous work in the field was based on teaching business leaders to modify their thinking and behavior to make them more effective. This book seeks to add a spiritual dimension to those ideas as a way to tap into a primary source of moral and ethical strength, Manz says. "I did this primarily as a self-development project," Manz says. "This book seemed like a logical step into an area I had become aware of, but hadn’t really explored very well."
Manz holds the permanent appointment as the first Nirenberg Professor of Business Leadership at the UMass School of Management. He has written many journal articles and several books, including "For Team Members Only," "Company of Heroes," "Business Without Bosses," and "SuperLeadership," which won the Stybel Peabody Prize for the best publication of the year in 1990. Manz joined the UMass faculty in 1996.