Leadership According to the World vs. Leadership According to Jesus

Posted: October 18, 2011 in books, culture, humility, Jesus, leadership

According to the world:

A couple months ago, we wrote about a study by researchers from Notre Dame and Cornell that showed how “agreeableness” negatively affects monetary earnings, particularly for men. Translation: it pays to be a jerk. Well, not exactly, but it apparently doesn’t pay to be overly nice.

Now, a recent paper from a host of researchers (from Stanford, Northwestern and Carnegie Mellon) fleshes out this notion by showing why nice guys who watch out for others generally fail to become leaders. The study looks at how contributing to the public good (i.e. taking care of outsiders, and even others in your own group) influences a person’s status on two critical dimensions of leadership: prestige and dominance. People who shared resources with their group were seen as prestigious, while those who protected their resources and even sought to deprive members of another group were seen as dominant…

The results of several group experiments showed that dominant individuals were more likely than prestigious ones to be elected leader of a group in competition with another group. Individuals with high prestige were seen as submissive compared to those striving to maximize personal gains. So in times of competition, we devalue altruism in our leaders.

– Freakonomics

According to Jesus:

One of the most astonishing things about Jesus is that whereas his contemporaries looked for a Messiah who would come in triumphant power, he came in humility and initial obscurity, and devoted his life to compassionate service to those whom society scorned, oppressed, excluded or overlooked.  And having made the point that he himself had not come to be served but to serve, he modelled it unforgettably in washing the disciples’ feet and then explicitly setting that as the example of how we should act.

– Christopher Wright, Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament (Downers Grove: IVP, 1992) 177-178.


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