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Motivating like Mother Teresa

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Centerpiece,Leaders & Managers

In 1946, a Romanian nun on a train climbing the Himalayan foothills de­­cided to leave her convent and help the poor, while living among them. She was inspired and felt the need to act.

That inspiration allowed her to overcome many obstacles over the years, attracting scores of others along the way.

Leadership is about inspiring ­others to see the possibilities, sometimes move into the uncertain, and embrace change. Is it possible to inspire and motivate the way Mother Teresa did? What can we learn from her?

• Be inspired before trying to in­spire others. Sister Teresa didn’t ask someone else to go live among the poor before she did. She inspired others through her own personal commitment. Sacrifice was necessary, and she had minimal training. Yet her passion was visible, and others were drawn to her mission.

Articulate how others can join you. Mother Teresa encouraged friends, such as Princess Diana, to provide support. And she motivated foes, like Fidel Castro, to get out of her way. By being direct, she let others know how to help her reach her goals.

Define the problem you’re solving. Mother Teresa wanted to ease the suffering of the poor and dying. Some accused her of ignoring root causes of poverty. But she knew her mission. She bore the criticism and soldiered on.

Empower others to follow—and act. By the time she died, Mother ­Teresa was leading thousands of people in 500 schools, shelters and ­missions in 100 countries. While inspiring others to follow her,  she also empowered them to act. Ten years after her death, her orders were in 600 facilities in 120 nations.

As a leader, find what inspires you and embrace it.

— Adapted from If You Will Lead, Doug Moran.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Doug Moran April 3, 2012 at 10:43 am

Thanks for posting this summary of one of my favorite of the If 16 leaders. I appreciate the job you did with the summary. If your readers would like to learn more, they can order If You Will Lead from or B&N.


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