December 04, 2008

Mother Teresa and Leadership

When people say "leadership", he/she will usually think about the direct leaders in the areas like business, politics etc.. At the beginning of L&E model I was reminded that leadership was much more than that. There are lots of indirect leaders as well, such as super movie stars who influence many people in the world. Mother Teresa was the one that suggested by Kang when we were discussing the leaders for seminar topics. Personally, I admire her very much. Her compassion for the poor and her devotion to the cause has also inspired so many people in the world.

The definitions of the leadership are many as Bass (1981) said "there are almost as many different definitions of leadership as there are persons who have attempted to define the concept". From 20 definitions from literature which were given by Paul, our team (Team 1) found that 16 definitions are talking about "art or process of influencing", which accounts for the highest rate, and 12 definitions include "achievement of purpose or goals". For Mother Teresa, she has certainly influenced lots of people, and she has also got a clear goal which is her mission for her whole life - to serve and to do God's will.

There are two styles of leadership according to Bass and Avolio (1993). I guess that there are also as many styles as there are persons who have attempted to classify the concept. For example, I found that Goleman (2002) introduces six leadership styles in his book Primal Leadership. According to Bass and Avolio, there are transformational and transactional leadership. Transformational leadership is based on the relationship between leader and their followers developed from the exchange of some reward. The transactional leadership is concerned with engaging the hearts and minds of others. It requires trust, concern and facilitation rather than direct control. The skills required are concerned with establishing a long term vision, empowering people to control themselves, coaching, and developing others and challenging the culture to change. Clearly, Mother Teresa's leadership style is transactional.

Mother Teresa was awarded the Noble Peace Prize in 1979. She started to suffer from heart problems when she was 80 years old, and died in 1997 when she was 87. Once she said, "My doctors are always telling me that I must not travel so much, that I must slow down, but I have all eternity to rest and there is so much still to do. Life is not worth living unless it is lived for others." Was that not the greatest leader for living for others?

Here are some quotes of Mother Teresa to share with you:

Give the world the best you have,
And it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you have anyway.

People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered;
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends
And some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building,
Someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Be good anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God;
It is never between you and them anyway.

Mother Teresa


- 3 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. wow. Jingjing. You spend a lof of time for the direct/indirect leadership research.
    Too bad we cancel the seminar today.

    04 Dec 2008, 18:07

  2. I didn’t do much, just personally interested in the topic and really respect Mother Teresa. :)

    04 Dec 2008, 19:50

  3. fishing tackle

    great women – many could learn from that example

    08 Jan 2009, 14:45


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