Mother Teresa, CEO | Ruma Bose

Summary of: Mother Teresa, CEO: Unexpected Principles for Practical Leadership
By: Ruma Bose


Discover how Mother Teresa, an Albanian nun, transformed her organization – the Missionaries of Charity, into a global entity operating in 134 countries, serving the poorest of the poor. Although she received no formal business education, she was a master in integrating her strong personal vision with eight principles, which made her an exceptional leader. The book ‘Mother Teresa, CEO: Unexpected Principles for Practical Leadership’ unveils these principles and how they led to the creation of a robust organization. This summary will provide an overview of these principles, which are applicable not just for humanitarian work but for leadership across all domains – from business and politics to community-building initiatives.

Lessons from Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa’s story teaches 8 powerful leadership principles that made her a global icon with a lasting legacy. She dedicated her life to serving the destitute, starting the Society of Missionaries of Charity. Under her leadership, the organization expanded to over 134 countries, with more than a million volunteers, and billions of dollars in funding, without her ever receiving any business training. Her work showcases a drive, determination, faith, and singular management style that highlight the importance of compassion, vision, and perseverance as essential leadership qualities.

Mother Teresa’s Leadership Insights

Mother Teresa, the founder of the Missionaries of Charity, established a religious order dedicated to serving the impoverished. Her leadership principles primarily stemmed from her strong personal vision. Before bringing her vision to her organization, she gained valuable insights about herself, her priorities, core values, and personal goals by introspecting. Effective leadership means modeling your vision, demonstrating your passion and conviction in your daily activities while staying aligned with your vision, even when no one is watching. By following these leadership principles, Teresa established over 594 well-financed missions in more than 100 countries, serving the poorest of the poor.

Mother Teresa’s Ethical Dilemmas

Mother Teresa faced ethical dilemmas when accepting donations from questionable sources. Despite heavy criticism, she remained determined to raise money for her mission to help the poor. Her leadership principles emphasized the importance of having a solid ethical foundation, knowing your goals and understanding your personal principles. As a leader, you will inevitably face moral dilemmas, and it is crucial to approach them with care and make decisions that serve your goals while remaining ethical. Ultimately, Mother Teresa’s ability to grow her organization to a global scale with billions in capital is one of the greatest business accomplishments in human history.

Mother Teresa: A Life of Purpose

Mother Teresa’s life was defined by her unwavering commitment to a clear vision of serving the poor. She waited almost 20 years after becoming a nun before starting the Missionaries of Charity, which began with a simple act of love towards a woman dying on the street. She faced obstacles and resistance from the Catholic Church, but her persistence, focus and commitment eventually led to gaining official approval. Mother Teresa’s third principle stresses the importance of emotional, financial and operational readiness to handle the risks and rewards of decision making.

Mother Teresa’s Doubt

Mother Teresa, who was beatified in 2003, remained unwavering in her quest to help the poor, but letters to her spiritual mentor show that she dealt with “tremendous doubt, distance from God, and spiritual isolation.” Her doubts persisted even as she tirelessly worked to advance the success of the Missionaries of Charity. However, as her fourth leadership principle states, embracing doubt can benefit one’s faith by serving as a catalyst and guide to fortify one’s resolve. Acknowledging and working through doubts while accepting risks inherent in progress can prevent paralyzing fear.

Mother Teresa’s Unique Leadership

Mother Teresa was a disciplined leader who led by example and found joy in serving others. She and her team woke up early each day for prayers, Mass, breakfast, and devotional singing before beginning their workday at 8 am. Despite the challenges of managing 500-plus missions worldwide, she remained deeply committed to her work and her workers. Mother Teresa believed that discipline was essential to both life and leadership. She recycled the joy she found in even the simplest tasks to replenish her enthusiasm and energy. Regular practice instilled discipline, and she urged others to find joy in their efforts rather than judging by the final result. To Mother Teresa, success mattered less than continuing to try and taking calculated risks when making decisions. Her unique leadership style proved effective, and she led by example with kindness, discipline, and joy.

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