In the latest McKinsey Quarterly, Stan Slap argues that the best leaders inspire their teams by bringing their values to work. Living a seamless life, both public and private, that says: this is the most important thing about living. It is about being yourself, more of yourself, and being vulnerable … in order to be a more effective leader. According to Slap, “By disclosing how your unshakable view of life priorities was formed, you are offering proof of your commitment to these values.”
But aren’t we faced with a conundrum when our deepest values have anything to with faith or religion? Separation of religion and state (or religion and business for that matter) has long been common practice. In fact, it is the base upon which America was founded. In 1779, Thomas Jefferson was concerned about the power of the Church of England within Virginia, my home state. Jefferson believed that a guarantee of religious freedom was the best guarantee that America would avoid the religious intolerance and bloodshed that had marked much of the history of Europe. He wrote the Act for Establishing Religious Freedom, which became law in Virginia and was the base for the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Remember, this was 1786 – seventeen eighty-six. We have a clear history of this separation in our daily lives at least since then – and not just in America. So it is no wonder that management gurus such as Slap seem to bring “novel” ideas to the management discussion table.
In The St. Gallen MBA, with more than 24 nationalites and their respective values and cultures represented, students and staff alike are learning how to be sensitive to the core values of each other – even if they are religious in nature, based on this first freedom. Starting in November, we will be hosting voluntary “Spiritual Quotient Evenings” where students, staff and external speakers can begin to respectfully discuss how faith and religion fit into running responsible businesses – or don’t. The objectives of these evenings are to: discuss the connections between faith, religious belief, and what it means to be a responsible leader; learn about different religious traditions and how those relate to business ethics; discuss challenges and dilemmas that might arise from being a person whose core values are based in faith and the effects on business; provide students and staff the opportunity to explore issues of faith and values and business in a casual setting.
In St. Gallen we are Developing Responsible Leaders!
I’ll keep you posted!