From the Publisher
Bob Pittman president, America Online As a minister's son, I have always found the story of Moses to be a source of inspiration. This insightful book applies its moral lessons to the world of business and management.
Dr. Warren Bennis distinguished professor of business, University of Southern California, and coauthor of Organizing Genius and Co-Leaders David Baron reveals in this book how one of the world's greatest leaders provides useful and creative lessons for all of today's leaders. His incarnation of Moses' unparalleled leadership is useful, creative and readable, a very practical guide for today's managers.
Nathaniel Branden, Ph.D. author of Self-Esteem at Work Lucidly and entertainingly written, Rabbi Baron's book...is rich on wisdom and the kind of simple insights that stimulate the mind. This is an original and exciting contribution to the literature of management.
Michael Kassan president, Western International Media Moses on Management is a gem filled with wisdom, warmth, and great lessons for today's managers.
Dr. Art Ulene author of the Feeling Fine series The story of Moses' trials and triumphs is an ideal theme for Rabbi Baron. He has a unique talent for making audiences feel the connection between past and present, for showing them the Old Testament in a new and vibrant light.
Albert Madansky H.G.B. Alexander professor of business administration, Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago These valuable lessons constitute a core upon which one can build a comprehensive of management derived from the Old and New Testaments.
Read an Excerpt
"No really great man ever thought himself so" wrote the nineteenth-century English essayist William Hazlitt. Moses, the man who would lead the Israelites out of Egypt and create a new nation, was not a glory seeker. He would have been happy to stay in the desert wilderness of Midian and live out his life raising his family and minding his father-in-law's sheep. When destiny called, he was none too pleased.
"Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh?" was Moses' first reaction to God's offer. "Don't worry," replied the Lord, "I will be with you." Moses tried a different approach: "What if they do not believe me and do not listen to me?" No problem, replied God -- He would put enough miracles in Moses' hand that everyone would respect his authority as God's messenger. Next, Moses resorted to his lack of job skills: "Please, O Lord, I have never been a man of words...I am slow of speech and tongue...Make somebody else Your agent!" But God knew He had chosen the right man. "Okay, already," He said. "There is your brother, Aaron...He shall speak for you to the people." Finally, having run out of excuses, Moses accepted the job.
Many of us can relate to Moses' terror of being placed in a high position. We know that the higher our position, the farther we have to fall. Sometimes it's easier to make excuses about our inadequacies than it is to take on the challenge. Even if we don't verbalize our ambivalence to the person offering us the job, we may still be plagued by self-doubt. Like Moses, we may worry that people will laugh when they see us in a position of authority. We may fret that we don't have the right skills for the job. Sometimes, if we're lucky, our boss -- or our destiny -- will be so implacable that we'll have no choice but to step up to bat and rise to the challenge.
An ancient legend tells us that God actually chose Moses to lead the Hebrew people because of an incident that occurred while he was minding the herd. A kid was separated from the herd and had become lost. Moses ran after it for a long time until he finally found it, exhausted and hungry. He found water for the animal, then hoisted it on his shoulders and returned it to the flock. Seeing this, the Lord thought, "If he shows so much compassion to one lost kid, how much more will he show to the people!" So when Moses claimed he wasn't good enough for the job, God knew otherwise.
We are seldom aware of the criteria higher-ups use when selecting us for positions of leadership. Moses thought speaking skills would be crucial to any great leader, but God disagreed. The attributes God was looking for were strength of character and compassion, and those Moses possessed in abundance. In his management classic Leaders, Warren Bennis says that of the leadership qualities most organizations look for, "judgment and character...are the most difficult to identify, measure, or develop. We certainly don't know how to teach them," he says. "Business schools barely try....Although a lot of executives are derailed (or plateaued) for lack of character or judgment, we've never observed a premature career ending for lack of technical competence." Technical competence can be learned or deepened on the job.
As a manager, you are often in a position to encourage people to take on new challenges. When you see potential in others that they do not yet see in themselves, it can be just as difficult to broaden their views as it was to broaden your own. Yet that is part of your job. When God was persuading Moses, He helped Moses make the leap. When Moses said he felt unworthy, God said, "Don't worry, I will be with you." As a manager, you will find it necessary to assure others that although they'll be venturing into new territory, you'll be there for them when they need you. That kind of support is the greatest gift you can give as a manager. When Moses expressed his fear that his authority would not be recognized, God gave him tangible symbols of authority, such as the shepherd's staff that could generate miracles. Similarly, if you put a person into a position of authority, you may have to provide some symbols of that authority -- an office with a view, a preferred parking space -- so that others in your organization can see that this person really does have new power. Finally, when Moses complained that he lacked a certain skill he thought he needed for the job, God arranged to have Aaron support him in his weak area. You may also have to give the new manager loyal lieutenants.
Like any successful leader, God discerned the traits of leadership in Moses before Moses himself was aware of them. He didn't just give Moses the job assignment and send him on his way. He supported and reassured him, and gave him the tools he needed to succeed. The Sapient Corporation, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is an example of a company that has shown remarkable skill at developing leaders. By maintaining its outstanding staff, Sapient has built a reputation for excellence in client service and technological smarts. Jon Frey, a director at Sapient, lists five core values the company looks for when it selects and grooms its leaders: "One of those is client focus: How well does this person make clients happy by understanding and solving their business problems?" Sapient's second core value is leadership, which they measure by how well a person inspires the team and creates a shared vision. They also focus on how well a person motivates people and understands what they need, both personally and professionally, to be happy as people. Finally, they consider openness a core value: How well does the person communicate with others? How approachable and forthright is he or she?
Technical skill is certainly an essential element at Sapient, but in grooming its leaders, the company puts immense emphasis on a person's ability to see potential in others and help them maximize it. Of his stint as a manager on one of Sapient's larger projects, Frey says, "My role was one hundred percent keeping the team happy and supporting them."
God could have brought the Children of Israel out of Egypt any way He wanted to. He could have beamed them up or put them on a magic carpet flying straight to the Promised Land. But He didn't do that. Even with the advantage of His omnipotence, He chose to cultivate leadership talent in Moses and Aaron, and then made sure that they cultivated leadership among the elders of the Israelites.
By seeing the core character traits that lay at the heart of leadership -- honesty, integrity, compassion, and courage -- and by challenging people to manifest those qualities within themselves, God set in motion more than the Exodus from Egypt. He set in motion a concept of leadership that allowed powerful, universal laws of life to be transmitted to others.
Copyright © 1999 by Rabbi David Baron