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8 Ways Catholic bosses can imitate St. Joseph

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Pascal Deloche / Godong

Cassandre Verhelst - published on 04/24/24

We know St. Joseph was a hard worker and by the work of his hands, he served the Lord himself. Catholic leaders in the workplace should follow his lead.

May 1 is the feast of St. Joseph the Worker. Jesus’ father on earth is one of the most beloved saints and an inspiration in public, professional, and private life. In particular, on this feast, we can consider how he might inspire Catholic CEOs in their daily management tasks.

A management style is built from values, norms, tastes, and habits — all of these are likely to be fundamentally shaped by religion.

A 2023 survey of 20 Catholic leaders showed that their faith influences their management in the following ways:

1
Putting human dignity above all else

When a leader (or any employee) has Catholic convictions, the tasks he faces are not different, but the way they are carried out is. Perhaps the most fundamental characteristic of work with Catholic conviction is the importance given to the human person himself.

“The Christian leader knows that each person is unique, and must bring out the strengths of each person. They must give, not only of themselves, but also allow others to give of themselves through their unique talents.”

Deeply aware of the importance of each human being, Catholic managers look after their employees, from the senior associate to the cleaning staff, aware that each one is a brother or sister in Christ. In view of their appreciation of people before tasks or results, Catholic managers make it their mission to take care of the well-being of their teams: “Our role is not to let the company crush people.”

For leaders, respecting human dignity also means involving others in the decisions to be made. Catholic managers do not impose on their employees what they think is best. While they feel responsible for the people who have been entrusted to them, they recognize that they must behave towards their employees in a way that fully respects the human dignity of each individual, through honesty, benevolence, attentive listening and demanding trust.

2
Helping each co-worker use his God-given talents

The Catholic leader sees himself as having a responsibility to look after and be attentive to the souls of the people entrusted to him. Thus, they endeavor to help each person develop and use his God-given talents, so that each employee feels he is in the best place for him.

3
Creating a listening environment of mutual trust

Catholic managers should arrive to work imbued with the Word of God. Their habit of listening to God should translate to an open relationship of listening with their employees. This creates a space where professional (and to the extent appropriate, personal) information is shared, with the awareness of the person as a whole. In listening to the whole person, a manager can then entrust him with the right amount and type of work, and adapt to the person’s situation to allow him to flourish in accordance with his capacities and needs at a given moment.

4
They are enlightened by the Church

A faith-based management style is enlightened by the example of Catholic leaders and based on the principle of subsidiarity. This principle, a cornerstone of Catholic Social Doctrine, gives each individual the autonomy due him. By entrusting decisions to those most intimately involved in the matter at hand, Catholic leaders create trust with their team. In other words, they are not micro-managers.

5
They see their work as a service 

For almost all the managers interviewed, leadership is synonymous with service, and they are surprised that this isn’t the case for everyone. Some comment that “to serve is to grow”; others say that “you can’t lead well if you’re not in a position to serve.” The interviews of this study were carried out just before Holy Thursday, so several managers made the connection that this day served as a “reminder that the greatest leader is at the service of his team (when Christ washes the feet of his apostles).” In concrete terms, for some managers, this means prioritizing their “pending tasks” first for their team, then for outsiders, to make sure that those for whom they work are always their top priority.

6
They let their decision-making process be influenced by God

“My main shareholder is God. And every morning, I convene my board of directors.”

When making decisions, the Catholic manager must first be a person of good will (Catechism of the Catholic Church), but must add a supernatural motive to his decision-making. With this added layer, Catholics can take moral stances that have a different flavor, influenced by the will of God, which they will have understood and which will influence the way they make decisions. Their faith influences their leadership and decision-making as they allow themselves to be enlightened by prayer and spiritual guidance. Prayer enables Catholic leaders to move beyond leading by individual conscience alone.

Spiritual guidance is also seen by leaders as “a reference for thorny issues and moral hazards.” In fact, the spiritual advisor sheds light on the Bible and can bring Catholic managers back to the Word, making them realize that often the answers to their questions are to be found in the Bible, and that there is no better example for Man than the example of Christ.

7
Their faith influences the values they see as important

Catholic managers believe that their faith helps them see their work as a service and a duty.

The Catholic leader sees his role not merely as a job, but as a mission within the company. Work is “not seen as an obligation (just to earn money and pay the rent). Catholics know that they are co-creators of Creation, that God expects them to play an active part.” Indeed, for the managers interviewed, this co-creation is reflected in their objectives. “Our most important metric is the personal growth of our employees”; a manager’s task is to help others grow. This is in line with the deep-seated conviction that all work has meaning only insofar as it is service. 

8
Work as a part of human life and a place of sanctification

In their management, Catholic leaders make sure that their place of work is also a place of education and learning about life. They create environments where their employees can work on virtue, and learn to make difficult decisions. For example, a Catholic leader makes sure that there is enough interaction between co-workers so that the office can be a place of interpersonal relationships, because it is in relationship that people can treat others with the same love that they receive from Christ. Catholic managers make sure that the environment that they create is a place of fulfillment for others.

Just like St. Joseph

The survey of these Catholic leaders showed that putting faith into the workplace means valuing human dignity above any other factor.

Catholic leaders let themselves be influenced by prayer and spiritual guidance and live their faith openly and visibly in order to make their profession a service to others and a place of sanctification.

This is exactly what St. Joseph did in his work as carpenter!

~

To call on the intercession of St. Joseph for your work and for your co-workers, we invite you to join a novena on Hozana that will allow you to do just that, seeking to transform yourself into a living testimony of Christ in your work.

Tags:
Saint JosephSocial Doctrine of the ChurchSpiritual LifeWork
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