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Gini Dietrich

Mormons Make Better Leaders

By: Gini Dietrich | June 22, 2011 | 
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Some of you may not know that I grew up in Utah. The inevitable question, after I tell people that is, “Are you Mormon?”

Yes, I was raised Mormon. Through a series of family events and some hypocrisy with some of the members in our ward, I stopped going to church when I was 18, right before I graduated from high school. And then I went to a Catholic university (Creighton), where I was required to take a different theology course every semester.

Because of that, I learned (and grew to believe) in other philosophies; other theories.

I’ve never found my way back to the church. I am what one would call a Jack Mormon (not that they label or judge people for decisions made outside of the church).

But I’m always drawn to stories, articles, and leadership lessons from the Mormon faith. It’s true I’ve been away from the church longer than I was in it, but it’s still my roots.

That’s why I was fascinated to read this article in BusinessWeek about Mormons, their missions, and how they produce leaders.

If you don’t know, Mormon men, at the age of 19, leave college to serve a mission. Some are sent overseas, some are sent to third-world countries, and some stay stateside. Women can serve missions, too, but not until they’re 21. You see, they typically go to college to get their MRS degree, dating and then marrying the men who are just coming back from their missions. But that’s not for all and there are some women who serve missions and then live a long and fruitful married life.

Gary Cornia, dean of Mormon-run Brigham Young University’s Marriott School of Management, is often asked what makes Mormons so successful.

I’m not going to say we beat everybody out, but we do have a reputation. And one of the defining opportunities for young men and young women is the mission experience.

Because of the mission experience, there are Mormon leaders at Marriott International, American Express, American Motors, Dell Computers, Lufthansa, Fisher-Price, Life Re, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, Madison Square Garden, La Quinta Properties, PricewaterhouseCooper, and Stanley Black & Decker. The head of human resources at Citigroup is Mormon, and in 2010 Goldman Sachs hired 31 grads from BYU, the same number it hired from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.

Steve Young is Mormon. So is Steven Covey. And David Neeleman, the founder of JetBlue. And Mitt Romney, who is running for President.

Heck! Maybe someone you work with is Mormon.

I bring all of this up not to say Mormons definitely do make better leaders, but that there is something to be said for their mission experience. Just like there is something to be said for those who study abroad and learn about different cultures before joining the workforce.

So, the next time you crinkle your nose, think “whoa that person is weird,” or ask the person how many wives their dad had when you hear they’re Mormon, think about all the good they’ve done, both on their missions and in corporate America.

And remember, polygamy is against the law, no matter which religion you practice.

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, a Chicago-based integrated marketing communications firm. She is the lead blogger here at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. She is the co-author of Marketing in the Round and co-host of Inside PR. Her second book, Spin Sucks, is available now.

202 comments
emagineSUNIL
emagineSUNIL

Mormon magic underwear is, for the most part, very comparable to other undergarments. It is made out of similar fabrics like nylon, polyester or cotton. It is white, apart from colored ones only available to soldiers on active duty, in view of the fact that white is considered to be a sacred color in Mormonism and the color symbolizes cleanliness, devotion, purity and heaven.

http://www.mormonmagicunderwear.com/

Jk Allen
Jk Allen

My GREAT experience with Mormons...

I'm from Oakland, California and never knew what Mormon was until I moved to Colorado for college. In Oakland, there's a beautiful building called the Mormon Temple - but I never thought to ask anyone what it was...I had no clue whatsoever.

After moving to Colorado, of course, I met a lot of Mormons in college (Colorado State Univ.) and found that the only things that separated them from others is their practices in living a clean life (no drugs, no alcohol, no girls, no caffeine). And besides girls and caffeine, we had everything else in common...and of course some of the details of our faiths.

I asked why people gave them a hard time and they explained the doctrine that is pretty different than that of other sectors of Christianity...including the history of polygamy in the church. Heck, in my immaturity I was really starting to LOVE what I was hearing (polygamy). I'm much more mature now, but just saying, as a 17 years old - that's what life was about (sorry, I just can't manage to be too serious for too long...I guess I'm still a little immature!)

Being in the dorms with some of these guys taught me a lot about leadership actually. They were willing to stand firm on what they believed in, despite the ridicule they received because of their faith. And they never played the back and forth game. Interesting how that stuff works - but I really did learn some great life lessons from Morons, who always had open arms and great attitudes...I'm still friends with many of them today.

I think that Morons make great leaders. I can't say better, because I'm not one (I can't count myself out because of my faith difference).

JamesDBurrell2
JamesDBurrell2

I guess I'll throw my Southern Baptist hat into the ring, and then I'll pick it up again because I wouldn't want it tainted by any of you heathens out here. Only kidding. It is quite amazing the religious prejudice that exists in our country, but if we'd just give folks a chance, we'd likely find out that we aren't so different. I'm not much of a practicing Baptist presently, but even when I was, we weren't a bunch of evangelicals running about screaming of fire and brimstone like much of the country assumes. Most folks that attended my church cursed, drank, and did other things not often associated with Baptist believers carrying on day-to-day lives like anyone else.

We did handle snakes though. That's a legitimate claim. Ok, fine, we didn't, but I am from Georgia and have seen (driving quickly past) churches that do do that. It's a bit scary.

Hope you're having a great Friday, Gini.

jennwhinnem
jennwhinnem

Hi Gini,

Add this to your stupid questions: "do you wear the sacred underwear?"

As for me, I'm Catholic. You know how this effects me at work? I feel guilty and undeserving all the time. I think you got the better deal, hands down.

hugs,

Jenn

MSchechter
MSchechter

Several years ago, I was going out to dinner some clients. As we walked into the restaurant, I was told that they are mormon. To be frank, I was scared shitless. I have a tendency of speaking off the cuff and my misconceptions about mormons had me terrified that I was going to blow the account or worse yet deeply offend someone (I need to be locked in my cage from time to time). Boy was I wrong. Not only were they great people, great partners, they were utterly hilarious and we are so super close to this day.

I learned a lot about Mormons that night (mainly because once I knew I could, I asked endless questions) and a lot about my own misconceptions. I'm still in awe of just how much character building is built into the faith. It is certainly not for me (I tend to lack character :) ), I couldn't help but feel a little bit of awe for what they try to inspire within their family and within their community. Also, would they feel the same way about me if I was in their family or their church... probably not, but I couldn't help but respect just how strongly they put pressure upon themselves, but how little judgment the brought upon a loud mouth 21 year old from NYC.

Not surprised in the least to see just how successful many who have had that kind of character building upbringing become.

JamesBSchultz
JamesBSchultz

Yes, I’m shy and I’m not sure what I could add to your community. Following you and the frequent contributors is intimidating. Scary. Well here goes. I’m Catholic and yes I do practice. From my view, growing up the focus in the Catholic Church for me and my friends were ritual and rules (we have a lot) not service. Heck, I didn’t even know what service was until I was in my twenties. One thing I’ve noticed in the last 10 years is the continued increase of younger Catholics to serve on mission trips. I’ve served on mission trips in Central America. My kids have made multiple mission trips to Central America. Great lessons on servant leadership. I know we all came back changed from the experience. Many times I have failed miserably in each of my leadership roles as husband, father and coach. After each mistake, I get up, learn and resolve to never give up! My experiences in the mission trips tell me leadership principles are neither new or complex. They don’t seem to demand special talents (I like that part since I struggle with identifying any special talents I might have). They are simply based on strengthening the bonds of respect, responsibility and caring with the people around me. My hope is I can continually challenge and improve my actions with these timeless virtues. And who better to teach me than Jesus Christ? Thanks for sharing Gini!

lisarobbinyoung
lisarobbinyoung

The mission makes the person. That service focus - regardless of religion - colors your world view.

You are taken out of your own parochial world and exposed to the other 99.9% of what you've been missing living in your comfy paradigm.

I lived in Utah for 4 years and, while I was not Mormon, still get asked if I know the Osmonds.

Actually, I know the jeweler that made Marie Osmond's wedding ring. There's a secret inscription in in it. That is all I can say.

YasinAkgun
YasinAkgun

It's funny thing this article has been written, my uncle is coming over to London this weekend. My uncle is a mormon, and is somebody I look up to, he's always given me straight out there great advice and been a part of why I want to be the best that I am every day. I got the impression that his friends and colleagues in the LDS had the same positive attitude too.

Thanks for the article, will show this to my uncle when he comes over!

jgwhitt
jgwhitt

It am honestly amazed at the respectful conversation this started. It makes me want to say "I am a Mormon too!" Oh wait, I am :). Thank you for sharing Gini! There is a lot of truth to what you said in terms of the leadership qualities that missions and LDS church life can help one develop. It certainly changed my life. I would not be doing PR in Europe had I not served a mission.

girlygrizzly
girlygrizzly

Gini,

I still remember as one of the most spiritual experiences in my life, when Boss and I had time and decided to stop at Temple Square in Salt Lake City. It felt like we were the only ones there and our guide was patient and a wonderful story-teller. I know we had goose bumps many times during our personal tour and I have never forgotten the feelings it brought forth.

What or Whom- ever sent Brigham Young his dream... whatever it was that told him when he got there, that "THAT" was the place, is still there. Anybody, I am sure would feel it, just walking through the square. It always makes me feel as if I am "full-up-full" of joy (yeah, of all things) when I have those feelings.

Our newest trainee had just finished completing his mission when he came to us. We are blessed.

Thanks Gini, for another reminder.

~Amber-Lee

TheJackB
TheJackB

This post reminds me of a conversation I had a while back. I worked for a manufacturer of diamond tools. We made products that were used to cut concrete and got to attend very cool tradeshows like 'The World of Concrete.'

We used to engage with some real characters. One of our customers once told me that he didn't like doing business with people who didn't have faith. As a very feisty 20 something I went looking for a fight and encouraged him to tell me who that was because I was certain that he was going to say something about Jews.

Well, he did but first he excoriated Catholics followed by Mormons and then the Jews. It was a learning experience to me, because it had never occurred to me that there would be that sort of attitude or infighting among "you guys."

gritsnyc
gritsnyc

Thanks for sharing this, Gini. I have several LDS friends and colleagues in the PR world. They are, without exception, some of the hardest working, kind, thoughtful, and strategic people I know. And not one of them has ever brought the Church to the office, so to speak (wish I could say that for other folks, but alas...).

This Nice Jewish Girl may not understand all the ins and outs of their beliefs, but I respect the heck out of whatever made them into PR leaders. When in doubt, hire the Mormon -- you'll be glad you did.

robert_madison
robert_madison

@ginidietrich When I first read that I read, "Morons make better leaders" ~ I thought, "Is that redundant, obvious, or both?" ;)

ChristianHolli
ChristianHolli

Thanks for the post Gina. It was great to hear your take on everything. Being born and raised Mormon, and still a practicing member - I can certainly tell everyone that there's a big focus on being a member in being an example to others and serving. That must be where the leadership emphasis is placed.

There's been a whole bunch of articles and such on the mormon "leader" topic, and it's interesting to hear everyone's thoughts.

I know that by serving my mission, I've learned so much about life. It was the most beautiful, happiest, joyful time of my life -and I wouldn't trade the service for anything!

Mormon or not, just know that it's important that a potential president be a good leader and President. Not just Mormon. ;)

SmartBoyDesigns
SmartBoyDesigns

@ginidietrich I'm a Mormon, and know Marcus Sheridan is too. And a few other bloggers. I know I sure look up to them as leaders. Others too!

Todd Lyden
Todd Lyden

@Jk Allen the slips there at the end are priceless. I've had many mormon friends, everntually they learn my issues with their faith. sadly, i prefer much about the "on the ground" running of the churches versus so many other denominations.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@JamesDBurrell2 It's amazing that any prejudice exists in our country. Mr. D said to me yesterday, "I hope the next generation looks at homosexuals the way we look at African-Americans and they shake their heads that they were treated so poorly."

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@jennwhinnem LOL! Not many people know about the underwear. You can only wear it if you've been through the temple, which typically happens (for the first time) at the beginning of your mission or if you're married there. And don't you worry - I feel guilty all the time. Especially when I drink wine in front of my Mormon friends.

TheJackB
TheJackB

@jennwhinnem I get the Jewish version of those questions. People ask about tefillin and tzitzit. You know, the leather straps and string men wear. Or maybe you don't know which is why so many people ask. Makes for good conversation provided you aren't on a plane.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@JamesBSchultz Jim! You stopped by! I love it...and I love your contribution. I think there is so much to be said about service and what it teaches us about ourselves.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@lisarobbinyoung LOL!!! That reminds me of the time I was in Santo Domingo. It was while Sammy Sosa played for the Cubs. Everywhere I went, people would ask me if I knew Sammy Sosa. By the time I left, he lived next door. :)

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@jgwhitt LOL! I'm really impressed by this conversation, too. I really thought I'd get some backlash. But not a single hate comment. Not one.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@girlygrizzly First, I love that I'm seeing you around the web more and more. Secondly, thank you for such a nice tribute. You didn't happen to be at Temple Square during Christmas, did you??

KarenBice
KarenBice

@TheJackB It doesn't matter what religion, there will always be different branches or other faiths that are deemed to be "other" or not righteous enough because they don't meet someone's criteria for righteousness.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@gritsnyc The thing I like about the Jewish faith is it's most closely aligned (minus the one big difference) with the Mormon faith. It's a way of life; not something you decide bits and pieces you want to practice.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@ChristianHolli It's a HUGE important characteristic for our President not only to be able to lead, but to do so from a place of service.

Todd Lyden
Todd Lyden

@ginidietrich G- the end of "don't ask, don't tell" in the military will be the crucial change.

Look at the parallel to how blacks were finally accepted. They were integrated BY ORDER finally in the military well before society integrated.

Once that little wall has fallen, much will change

jennwhinnem
jennwhinnem

@TheJackB I do know those things, and I would never ask anyone about them. Plus, if you're wearing those...you're probably not sitting next to ME on a plane. Right?

girlygrizzly
girlygrizzly

@ginidietrich That was exactly what Ruger asked me! No, sadly, I've been told it is Christmas in the most beautiful possible ways. We used to "do" the shows in January and February all over the country. It was one of the most spiritual, touching places I have ever visited. (I'm on a mission!)

TheJackB
TheJackB

@KarenBice Oh I get that. There is a reason why we say two Jews, three opinions. But back then I hadn't spent any time thinking that other religions had it. It was a naive position, but Mormon, Catholic, Baptist were all basically the same thing to me. I didn't see any significant difference between them.

ElissaFreeman
ElissaFreeman

@ginidietrich oy! no wonder we got along so well. And? The lead singer of The Killers, Brandon Flowers? Mormon.

SmartBoyDesigns
SmartBoyDesigns

@ginidietrich that's pretty fantastic! What I love about blogging, honestly, is the transparency of all of us with different faiths or

TheJackB
TheJackB

@jennwhinnem Any time. If you ever need a resource for Jewish questions I am happy to be that guy.

TheJackB
TheJackB

@jennwhinnem @TheJackB That's more complicated than you might think. Depends on a bunch of things so it wouldn't be strange or surprising to be seated next to you.

darealya
darealya

@ginidietrich I'm just kidding! I'm working on a tough project + overbooked > trying to optimize + I can follow all of you too out there!

Trackbacks

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