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Mother Teresa Case

Essay by   •  February 12, 2013  •  Case Study  •  2,051 Words (9 Pages)  •  2,279 Views

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Mother Teresa:

Her Leadership Explored

If we were to randomly stop one hundred people in Times Square and ask them what are the first words that come to mind when someone mentions Mother Teresa we would undoubtedly hear qualities such as caring, loving, helpful and compassionate. However, is it possible that simply being caring is enough to take an organization that was started in one country with one leader and twelve members and turn it into a global enterprise in over one hundred countries with over four thousand employees? Is it possible that being helpful and compassionate is enough to attract over one million volunteers, raise and donate billions of dollars, win a Nobel Peace Prize and become one of the greatest Leaders of our time?

The accomplishments of Mother Teresa reveal characteristics and leadership qualities that extend far beyond the traditional views that society has for a simple caring nun who devoted her life to the poor and dying. We see a woman who exhibited traits similar to those of leaders of the most successful Fortune 500 companies. We see a charismatic, transformational leader who inspired her followers enough to leave behind their existing materialistic world to join her Missionaries of Charity and live a life of poverty. We see a highly self-aware woman who at a very young age created a simple vision but more importantly aligned this vision with her leadership characteristics, business decisions and overall directional goals of her organization. We see a highly self-managed woman who even during times of criticism could maintain optimism and hope instilling trust in her followers. This was possible due to her strict understanding and adherence to her simple vision of loving God and humanity. We see a woman who was a great communicator who understood the value of public relations. She was patient, disciplined, persistent, hard-working, motivated and demanding.

Mother Teresa's vision of establishing her Missionaries of Charity took over twenty years to develop. It is during this time, by consistently keeping her vision front and center, that she aligned her leadership style, lifestyle, actions and supporters with her plan. Her plan was simple. She wanted to help the poorest of the poor, and it was this exact simplicity that made it so appealing, attractive and understandable to all. This patience demonstrated by Mother Teresa allowed her over twenty years of exposure to poverty, leading to a deep understanding of the poor. It also allowed her to narrow this vision to helping specific groups like the dying and children. It is this invaluable experience that allowed Mother Teresa to take a drastic step and break away from the Sisters of Loreto order where she had belonged for 18 years. She knew to accomplish her new vision, she would have to leave her current position and start her own missionary.

Mother Teresa had a deep, personal, emotional commitment to her vision. However, she understood that she could not accomplish it on her own and this commitment had to be displayed to the outside world. She therefore made changes to her life that would show true, genuine loyalty to her supporters and followers. To align herself with the poor she adapted a simple life with simple living arrangements just like the poor. Her attire consisted of a loin cloth and a white sari that was woven by lepers. The dress also had on it three blues stripes symbolizing chastity, poverty and obedience. Her ability to lead by example gave true validity to her cause, exemplifying true devotion and inspiring others to join her mission. This tangibility that was gained had a trickle down effect to all of the organizations as they spread world-wide. Mother Teresa obviously could not manage and run all of the organizations, but as the newly opened charities adapted this same vision, synergistically the power and vision of the organization enhanced.

Mother Teresa knew to best serve the poor and to establish herself as a valuable entity to her cause she would have to further advance her own skills and make herself more brandable. She believed in the power of authority. She knew that to establish power and validity in her organization, and to have a bigger presence, she would need to remain a nun. She also trained and studied at a school for nursing better enabling her to care for the sick.

Mother Teresa understood the power of networking, and continually aligned herself with powerful political leaders to gain support, donations and to spread her mission. She realized that in order to develop her organization, she would need to break away form the confines of the Roman Catholic Church. At that time, she and the pope had many similarities. They entered the public scene at similar times, were both from eastern Europe and shared many similar Catholic views. By befriending the Pope, Mother Teresa could further justify her mission and establish it on a grand scale by showing the world that even the Pope cares for the impoverished.

To further strengthen her vision, she developed a knack for publicity and started to understand and appreciate its importance. She never really enjoyed being in front of cameras, but her ability to keep her vision front and center allowed her to overcome this and to remind herself how important the media was for her mission and donations. Her success in public relations was predicated on the way she packaged and delivered her cause. It was simple and clear. Therefore everyone could understand it regardless of education or background. The media also took to her very well mainly because of her authenticity, simplicity and clear, concise communication style. One of her main strengths was her ability to never feel embarrassed. She was never worried about offending or possibly not being invited back. She was never afraid to voice her opinion because in her eyes she was doing what she believed in. It was this kind of unwavering commitment to her vision that made her an extraordinary leader.

Like many great leaders who develop a plan to carry out a vision, the actions Mother Teresa took did not always please the masses and was therefore met with much criticism. Many of the critics pointed to the ways in which she acquired and used the donations made to her organization. She was known to accept money from illegitimate sources. One highlighted example would be Jean Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier. He was the ruler of Haiti who was driven into exile because of the brutal and repressive treatment of the Haitian people. These critics also questioned why the money was being used to open new charities instead of directly helping the poor and their conditions. They believed that these charities were very primitive and very inexpensive to run, and knowing the massive amounts of money



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