Respect for Humanity

Some years ago, there was an executive of a major corporation who made himself (with the aid of some skilled public relations people and a couple of books) into a “god” for managers. He had only a couple of big ideas. One was that every manager should rank every employee on a bell curve and fire those who ranked in the bottom 10% regardless of their actual contribution.

Last week, another CEO of an American technology company was exposed of implementing that same philosophy at her company despite the fact that this management philosophy has now been long discredited and dropped by many of its former followers.

The first executive is Jack Welch of GE. He built a house of cards that took his successor several years to fix. Yet many people still extol his “virtues” even until this day.

The second is Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo. She is trying to turn around a failing company. That is hard enough, but she also faces strong competitors and a shortage of skilled people. Seems like she would be better served by doing things to lead her people into greater performance.

Bell curves, as all of us who endured the education system know, inevitably force people to compete with one another. That is certainly not the way of modern, high-performance organizations.

Toyota has long held three principles as its core value: Customer First, Respect for Humanity, Eliminate Waste. Hmmm, Respect for Humanity. Think Mayer missed the plane when that idea went.

When Jesus came along (and you have to read the entire New Testament in this light), the main and only organization was Rome. Its CEO, if you will, was the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Prince of Peace–Caesar. The only value Rome extolled was power. Life was all about who had power over whom.

Jesus turned the entire Roman world on its head. He reversed every Roman teaching and replaced it with Love first. He who would lead must be a servant.

Many of us in management roles have tried to live this one out. Obviously many have not. Even in Christian organizations, power seems to rule over humanity. And where God is in all that, I guess God only knows as the saying holds.

Thought for the day: How are we treating others?

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